More than 1 million Americans provide care to injured and disabled U.S. military veterans who served after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with little support from public and private programs, according to a recent think-tank study.

A report from the the Rand Corporation said that post-9/11 caregivers provide an estimated $3 billion per year in support and miss an average of 3.5 days of work per month on average.

Military caregivers are family members, friends or acquaintances who assist veterans with a range of activities including bathing and eating, making medical appointments, travel, managing finances and caring for children.

(Matthew Cavanaugh for The Washington Post)

The study found that few of the roughly 100 programs offering services to military caregivers provide direct assistance to those individuals, instead focusing on veterans. Those that do provide direct assistance to caregivers tend to focus on older providers rather than the younger individuals who aid post-9/11 veterans, according to the report.

The report also said that 30 percent of caregivers lack health-care coverage, suggesting they face barriers in getting help for their own needs.

Former U.S. senator Elizabeth Dole, who commissioned the report, said in a statement that the findings point to “an urgent societal crisis,” adding that they should serve as a call to action on increasing support for “our nation’s hidden heroes.” Dole’s husband is former U.S. senator and Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, who lost much of the function in his right arm after being hit by German machine-gun fire during World War II.

Rand said additional programs are needed to “strengthen and empower” caregivers, particularly through skills training, social networks, greater workplace flexibility, and more programs that focus specifically on caregivers.

The study looked at 1,100 individuals who provide caregiving to former troops.

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