As I searched for a topic for this Veterans Day, I stumbled about some recent research.
While I have some idea of how much veterans suffer during and after their service, I was unaware how much their caregivers spend on them.
Per website Military.com, “Veteran and military caregivers spend an average $11,500 of personal income each year on out-of-pocket expenses related to supporting their loved ones, 150% more than other family caregivers in the U.S., according to new data from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.”
$11,500 is almost $1000 per month. In addition to the day to day hardships, veterans and their families have quite the financial burden.
The question is: how come? Is it a lack of benefits or a lack of awareness around benefits?
AARP Caregiving Expert Amy Goyer, whose father fought in WWII and the Korean War, notes that “roughly 34% of veterans use their earned VA health-care benefits.” That means 66%, or 2/3, do not. Even if more veterans use them, the VA doesn’t have to provide for everything. To care for her parents, Goyer moved across the country and paid their mortgage when they lived in a retirement community. Once they needed full-time care, they moved back with Goyer, who hired caretakers while she was at work. After their deaths, Goyer declared bankruptcy due to all the expenses.
Veterans and their families have to deal with enough hardships. They should not have to worry about having to provide for their medical needs. Imagine taking care of a veteran, and the VA doesn’t cover all the services they need. In addition to your own life, career and children, you have devote a considerable amount of time and money to keep your veteran safe. You might have to declare bankruptcy because of all the expenses.
How is this fair?
Both of my grandfathers served in WWII. I don’t know if my paternal grandfather utilized the VA, but my maternal grandfather did. After the horrors he witnessed, it was the state’s duty to take care of him.
I don’t have a solution on how to ease the burden for veterans and their caregivers.
But awareness of that burden is a decent start.