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Family Members Caring for Veterans Sacrifice Their Own Health, Jobs
Date:11/11/2010

THURSDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Many family caregivers of U.S. veterans sacrifice their own health and jobs to care for their loved ones and experience high levels of stress.

Even so, 94 percent say they're proud of their role, says a new study.

"The care of a veteran is unique, and in many ways these caregivers are facing even greater challenges than other family caregivers," said Gail Hunt, president of CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), which released the study to coincide with Veteran's Day.

"This report serves as a reminder that we need to come together to make sure caregivers have adequate resources and support," Hunt said in an alliance news release.

A previous NAC study found that more than 10 million people in the U.S. are caring for a veteran, from those who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam up to the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and nearly seven million of them are veterans themselves. There are more than 23 million U.S. veterans, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Compared to caregivers nationally, those who look after veterans are twice as likely to be a caregiver for 10 years or longer (30 percent vs. 15 percent), and are twice as likely to be in a high-burden caregiving role and to consider their situation highly stressful, found the new Caregivers of Veterans -- Serving on the Homefront study.

It also found that 96 percent of family caregivers of veterans are women and 70 percent provide care for a spouse or partner. Most of these women are sole providers of care. Only one-third said they have received help from paid caregivers.

A major source of caregiver stress and burden is veteran's health conditions, which often included depression and anxiety (70 percent), post-traumatic stress disorder (60 percent) and traumatic brain injury (29 percent).

About 30 percent of caregivers of veterans also care for children under
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