New study shines light on military caregivers

More than 1 million Americans provide in-home care to a wounded veteran

A RAND Corporation study released Tuesday shows that more than 1.1 million Americans provide in-home care to a wounded or emotionally damaged veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

96 percent of caregivers are women, according to the new study.

The study refers to the more than 80 hours of work some caregivers provide as the "unseen cost of war" and calls for a national strategy to be developed to help caregivers deal with the challenges of supporting a wounded veteran.

"I definitely think the caregivers should have more help, but there's not a certain way you can approach it," said Norbie Torres, who is the primary caregiver for her son Augie Pena.

The Iraq war vet was hit by a drunk driver nearly three years ago, paralyzing him from the waist down.

On Thursday, the pair was presented with a customized Dodge Caravan that will allow Pena to regain some the independence he lost as a result of his accident.

"I'm just a homebody. I can't really get out, but now with the van, I can get out," said Pena. "It gets me to reconnect with society, reconnect with the world."

Torres said there needs to be an organization caregivers can turn to in order to help them deal with issues specific to the veteran they're helping.

"The challenges are always different," said Torres. "Being a mother, you just want what's best for your son, but he's not a little boy. He's an adult and (despite his disabilities), you have to treat him like an adult, which is hard."

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