February 18 is National Caregivers Day, and we are taking this opportunity to spotlight the caregivers who serve those who serve America. The day of recognition occurs every year on the third Friday in February. Caregivers are unsung heroes, working to support individuals and families in their times of need.

Caregivers for disabled veterans

It is not uncommon for those who have served in war or other capacities to have service-related injuries and disabilities. In a survey published by Statista Research, they found that there are more than 1.5 million veterans who have a 70% or higher service-connected disability rating. This means that at least a few of those individuals need a caregiver in some capacity.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Unpaid caregivers

A caregiver can be anyone, paid or otherwise, who helps someone who is elderly, sick or disabled do everyday things. They can be family members, friends or a professional. This individual should be the one who helps the person in need by supporting their health, personal needs and safety. From bathing and dressing to grocery shopping, the caregiver is there every step of the way. A study conducted by AARP found that one of every five family caregivers is unpaid.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a program for comprehensive assistance for family caregivers because these people often set aside their personal lives in order to care for the veteran who needs them. Here are some of the requirements someone must have to qualify for the program:

  • Be a spouse or family member of the veteran.
  • Live full time with the veteran or is willing to do so.

The program offers the caregiver a monthly payment, health care benefits, training, mental health counseling and other assistance.

Caring for an active duty military member

Those who have retired from their service are not the only ones who need assistance. Active-duty servicemen and women need help sometimes too. Physical wounds and accidents happen, and it is not uncommon for a caregiver to provide some help while they heal. The same is true for those who have suffered from PTSD as a result of their service. This mental ailment can be incredibly disruptive to everyday life. Here are some examples of caregiver tasks according to the Army Public Health Center:

  • Assist a Service member with day-to-day tasks.
  • Provide a Service member with emotional support.
  • Advocate for treatments for a Service member.
  • Oversee legal or financial responsibilities for a Service member.
  • Coordinate care and schedules.

If you identify with any of the above experiences, you are probably a caregiver whether you know it or not.

Showing recognition

The day of recognition was first established by the Providers Association for Home Health & Hospice Agencies in 2015, first occurring in 2016. It is a great opportunity to thank the person in your life who you know dedicates their life to care. These people often put others' needs before their own.