KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Veterans And Caregivers Face Ongoing Challenges

WebMD: "When veterans with service-related injuries or illness need caregivers, the role typically falls on women, usually spouses or partners," according to a new study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the United Health Foundation. The study "reports that 96% of veterans' caregivers are women, compared to an overall nationwide finding that 65% of family caregivers are women. The study also says that 70% of veterans' caregivers are their spouses or partners, compared to 6% nationally." Veterans aged 18 to 54, many returning from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, comprise 40 percent of those needing care. Another key finding was that 70 percent of caregivers reported that the veteran receiving care had a mental illness such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Caregivers of veterans also reported higher levels of stress and physical side effects than other caregivers (Hendrick, 11/10).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Veterans are still facing hurdles in accessing adequate healthcare in the Department of Veterans Affairs' system. A former Marine who saw action in Iraq said he made a dozen trips to the Atlanta VA Medical Center before he could see a doctor for his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. "Georgia has about 770,000 veterans and 453,000 live in areas served by the Atlanta VA Medical Center. The center served about 77,000 patients in fiscal 2009, an increase of 8 percent above the prior year." The poor economy has further hindered many veterans, already suffering physical and mental ailments, in finding civilian jobs-necessitating their return to the overburdened VA system for healthcare. Nearly half of the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have obtained VA healthcare since 2002, but are often "thwarted by bureaucratic demands and delays." A spokesman for the Atlanta VA center acknowledged the challenges of serving an influx of patients, but said the center is addressing them through several measures, including the creation of nine new clinics with extended hours of operation (Schneider, 11/10). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.