Over the past several decades, there has been increased attention to supporting veterans and military families as they transition back into civilian life, especially when it comes to hiring and providing employment opportunities. This represents a very positive cultural change.

However, an often-overlooked piece of this puzzle is disabled veterans and loved ones who care for them—they often face unique challenges and require unique support. As the daughter of a career Navy veteran, I remember vividly how challenging my father’s transition to the private sector was after spending 20 years on active duty. Thirty years later, my husband’s transition after serving 34 years on active duty was even more difficult and took an emotional toll on both of us. Fortunately, both men went on to enjoy and thrive in their second private sector careers. For many veterans, though, the journey is much harder.

When veterans return to civilian life after their service, they can experience difficulties reintegrating into everyday life, finding stable housing, and securing meaningful employment that capitalizes on their skill sets. Often, families and loved ones support veterans during their transition back to civilian life as caregivers. These caregivers provide medical care, transportation to interviews and jobs, financial support, childcare, and much more to support their family. The commitment to their family is synonymous with our veterans’ commitment to our country.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 6.5 million unpaid veteran caregivers in the United States provide an estimated $14 billion worth of work—without compensation. Military families are strong. They depend on one another and often resist asking for help. Caregivers are most often family members or very close family friends who support the veteran in their life.

My organization, which aims to expand local access to healthcare, education and employment opportunities for those with disabilities (including veterans), recently carried out a study that found that caregiving often impacts many aspects of the caregiver's life, with 86% of respondents saying their responsibilities have impacted their work or education. Almost half of caregivers (46%) reported missing work, 31% reported having to reduce work hours, and 31% reported having lost salary or wages.

I can attest that these statistics are illustrative of what virtually all military caregivers experience. The stresses on military families under the best of circumstances are demanding and uncommon—from the mental stress that frequent separations can create, to the financial challenges that so many military families endure. The impact of the commitment these families so willingly make is significant.

Read the full article about caregiving for veterans by Kendra Davenport at Forbes.