AARP and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced recently that the new Respite Relief Program for Military and Veteran Caregivers is going nationwide in 2021. This free program grants family caregivers access to no-cost, short-term assistance to help those caring for wounded, ill or injured veterans or service members at home.
“Across the country, more than 5.5 million veteran and military family caregivers have been caring for loved ones through the Covid-19 pandemic, taking on more responsibilities along with increased worry, stress and anxiety,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. “AARP is heartened to collaborate with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to help communicate the support available to these hidden heroes. Respite relief can help lighten that emotional burden for veteran and military caregivers.”
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Respite Relief Program offers care assistance provided by CareLinx — a qualified in-home respite care provider — and national outreach support by AARP, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Wounded Warrior Project. Veteran and military caregivers can apply online at https://hiddenheroes.org/respite to receive 24 hours of respite care to help with activities of daily living such as cooking, grocery shopping, housekeeping, bathing and medication reminders.
“Now more than ever, military and veteran caregivers are feeling burned out and in need of a break,” said EDF Founder Sen. Elizabeth Dole. “We’re proud to offer the Respite Relief program and provide caregivers the much-deserved opportunity to recharge and practice self-care.”
Research from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving finds that many caregivers believe services like respite care would be helpful, though use of these programs remains low.
Just 14 percent report having used respite care, though 38 percent feel it would be helpful, according to Caregiving in the U.S. 2020.
New AARP Financial Workbook for Veteran and Military Family Caregivers
AARP also released a free financial workbook available for veteran and military caregivers. The workbook highlights caregiving costs to help individuals track what they spend on caring for their military veteran. Understanding out-of-pocket costs allows caregivers to plan and save, which can take significant financial pressure off the household budget.
Other AARP free resources and timely information for veteran and military caregivers include:
- Veterans and Military Family Caregiving Guide
- Veterans and Military Family Caregiving Handbooks
- Supporting Veteran and Military Family Caregivers in a Pandemic Fact Sheet
- For more information on these and other resources for veterans, visit www.aarp.org/veterans.
‘Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation’
On April 30, AARP Movies for Grownups will screen “Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation,” which takes a candid look at the millions of teens and millennials caring for injured veterans and service members in homes across America.
It’s also a highly personal documentary for the filmmaker, award-winning MSNBC news anchor Richard Lui. Lui’s own experience of caring for his disabled father inspired him to explore how military kids and teens cope with providing this kind of care for injured parents every day, and how they are struggling to find balance in their lives as a result of these injuries.
The families featured in “Sky Blossom” share a new perspective of what it means to be a military family, and the film reveals rare insights into the experiences of military children nationwide.
Troops used to look up and say, “Here come the Sky Blossoms” — paratroopers rushing to their aid. Today, there’s a brave new generation answering that call.
Don’t miss the complete feature-length screening of this film at the AARP Movies for Grownups screening on April 30. Check www.aarp.org/freemovies to learn more about upcoming screenings.
Ron Mori is a member of the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.