Panel discussion on Capitol Hill brings together experts to discuss caregiver challenges, policies, research and opportunities to inform pilot program development

Funding is part of United Health Foundation’s “Better Health for All” initiative

WASHINGTON, D.C.  (January 27, 2016) – Military and veteran experts and caregivers discussed unique military caregiver challenges and opportunities on Capitol Hill today to inform the development of a Blue Star Families pilot program to train and support military caregivers. United Health Foundation is funding the initiative with a $750,000 grant to improve caregivers’ quality of life and care for wounded warriors.

“With an estimated 5.5 million military caregivers in the U.S., the emotional and physical impact of caregiving can be extraordinary,” said Noeleen Tillman, Executive Director for Blue Star Families. “Through the support of United Health Foundation, this new program will provide caregivers valuable resources and training to help improve their own quality of life and the care they are providing to our wounded warriors.”

According to 2015 Annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey conducted by Blue Star Families, family caregivers of veterans face a higher burden of care, both in intensity and duration, and many make sacrifices to their own health and jobs to provide care for their loved ones.

“Military caregivers are making tremendous sacrifices and their continued well-being is vital to the quality of care wounded warriors receive,” said John Mateczun, President, UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans, which provides health care services for nearly 2.9 million service members, military retirees, and their families. “This grant will build on the work of Blue Star Families and create new, technology-driven training and resource-based programs to improve the health and well-being of caregivers and their loved ones.”

Interactive Program to Support Caregivers and Provide Training at Three Pilot Sites

The grant will create the Blue Star Cares: Military Caregiver Online Interactive Program. The initiative has been designed to increase caregiver knowledge, skills, and confidence related to caring for wounded warriors, enhance their social support networks through a continuum of care, and improve caregiver quality of life through new online training and interactive resources. The avatar platform will create computer-based simulation and care scenarios to help caregivers problem-solve and address real-life challenges to care, improve their knowledge, confidence, and skills related to caregiving.

“There are many military caregivers that don’t identify as caregivers for various reasons,” said Callie Barr, Marine Corps spouse and caregiver. “We need to recognize these caregivers and help them feel supported and understood. This Blue Star Families initiative is a huge step in the right direction.”

The program will be piloted and tested over the next three years at sites selected by Blue Star Families with the goal of making the avatar training program and evidence-based toolkit available to military caregivers in the United States and stationed around the world.

“We are proud to partner with Blue Star Families on this United Health Foundation ‘Better Health for All’ initiative that leverages technology to bring support and training to caregivers in the military community,” said Chris Stidman, Senior Vice President, United Health Foundation.


About Blue Star Families

Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserve, dedicated to supporting, connecting and empowering military families. With our partners, Blue Star Families hosts a robust array of morale and empowerment programs. Blue Star Families also works directly with the Department of Defense and senior members of local, State and Federal government to bring the most important military family issues to light. In concert with fellow nonprofits, community advocates and public officials, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable. Our worldwide membership includes military spouses, children, parents and friends, as well as service members, veterans and civilians. For more information visit bluestarfamilies.org, facebook.com/bluestarfamilies or twitter.com/BlueStarFamily.

About United Health Foundation

Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, United Health Foundation has committed more than $285 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.

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