The Unique Challenges Faced By Military Caregivers
We recognize the sacrifice those who serve in the military do for us, but we often do not think of the sacrifice of the military caregiver. When a loved one returns home injured or chronically ill, it changes the family forever. The military caregiver is not what most people think of in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, most do not even think of themselves as caregivers; they are simply wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, sisters or brothers. The injury to the service member not only changes him or her; it also changes the dynamic of the entire home. Those who care for wounded veterans face challenges that they never expected.
Military caregivers never planned on being in this position nor have they been trained to fill it. This can often cause a bumpy start to their role as caregivers as they adjust to this new dynamic and all that it entails. Often times, the possible length of the care is overwhelming, as many will be in this position for the rest of their lives.
Complex Medical Tasks
Much of the role of caregiver revolves around simple household tasks like cooking, cleaning, laundry, helping the veteran dress and use the bathroom and other everyday things that everyone knows how to perform. However, there will also be a whole new set of everyday tasks that may include complex medical issues. Although the caregiver has no training in the field, he or she will be fully responsible for medicine dispensing and dosage, physical therapy tasks, helping with stress and PTSD and other aspects of caring for the injured person that require special knowledge.
Loss of Income
Even when the injured person is not the breadwinner of the family, there will still be a financial impact to the family. On average, a military caregiver will miss at least one day of work per week caring for the loved one. Twenty-eight percent of military caregivers are forced to quit work altogether, and 11 percent take early retirement.
On Other Hand, There Are Rewards To Caregiving
These are far from the only challenges faced by military caregivers, and the actual list is too long to imagine. However, caring for a loved one is also one of the most rewarding things a person can do. In fact, one study shows that 94 percent of military caregivers say they are proud of the support they provide, and that they believe the veteran would not be where they are today if not for their care. It also shows that 78 percent say they have gained valuable new knowledge and skills in taking over as caregiver, and that they find the experience rewarding.