In the UK those caring for veterans often face additional challenges. Life-changing injuries due to service including both mental and physical, require extra care.
Our team and supporters suggest how you can cope on a day to day basis.
Looking after yourself
Try and stay one step ahead. Do this by taking care of your own heath. Not surprisingly, those providing care are twice as likely to be permanently sick themselves due to the extra stressors.
And how do you manage your stress levels? Get in touch with Combat Stress ,the UK's leading charity for veterans' mental health. The charity's free and confidential helpline is available 24-hour to all veterans, serving personnel, families, friends and carers: 0800 138 1619
Visit the Combat Stress website to learn more about the work they do, and how they can help you.
If you have sight-impairment, Blind Veterans UK can offer free support, addressing the emotional and practical aspects of caring.
Sometimes all the responsibilities are too much. Don't be embarrassed about getting in touch with Samaritans who are always available (and are a Veterans' Gateway Crisis partner).
And Veterans' Gateway staff are on hand 24/7. You can speak to one of our team and we will put you in touch with the help you need, or direct you to the information you are looking for.
Are you claiming all the benefits you're entitled to?
We've found that veterans and their carers often don't know about all the free advice and support out there. Help for Heroes "beneficiaries" also include families and their carers, and the organisation provides help with navigating the appropriate support.
Visit Blesma's (Blesma, The Limbless Veterans) benefits for carers page too for advice about the Carers Allowance and download their Carers Allowance leaflet.
Get help with practicalities
Carers are often responsible for trying to adapt facilities for their loved ones. Contact SSAFA for advice on applying for disabled facilities grants to adapt your home. And their volunteer caseworkers can also help deliver household goods.
Additionally, The Royal British Legion offers a range of advice from applying for mobility grants to household adaption and equipment, find out more in their Guide to Independent Living
Give yourself a break
Some options include Welfare breaks provided by The RAF Benevolent Fund, supporting all members of the RAF family. Blind Veterans UK also provide respite for veterans to give family members and carers a well-earned break.
Short breaks and respite care are also available for ex-service personnel via the Cobseo Care Home Cluster. Visit their website to see a directory of the services available.
Keep up to date with the latest legislation
From the Carers and Direct Payment Act (Northern Ireland) 2002 to the The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 you'll find lots more information in our Self Help section. Use the search box or select Living Independently/Care and view a selection of answers around legislation. See too our list of other organisations that can help
Remember that Veterans' Gateway is here to support you 24/7. Carer Stephen Burnell benefited from a referral through our service and like many he says "I honestly didn't know that support existed"
You are not alone
The Royal British Legion (RBL) carried out research in 2021. This looks at the unique needs and experiences of unpaid carers in the UK Armed Forces community, and makes recommendations for how these carers could be better supported.
41% of the carers who responded to RBL’s survey were veterans who are carers. And 21% cared for a veteran.
The report, Unpaid carers in the Armed Forces community shows that their role is having a serious impact on their mental and physical health.
Those providing care in the Armed Forces community are receiving half as much support as carers in the general population.
Those caring for a veteran were even less likely to have received any support or be able to take a break from their caring.
The report calls on the Government to improve access to statutory funded respite provision for the Armed Forces community.
And to invest in mental health and relationship support for carers of veterans, and improve awareness of unpaid carers and their entitlements at every stage of military and post-service life.
In addition to general help for carers, the Royal British Legion has launched a Network for Carers. See upcoming events and find out how you can get involved.
Use Veterans' Gateway Self help to find answers, by location, across subject including caring, finances, mental health and more.
And remember our helpline team is here for you 24/7.