Since I first came to Washington, D.C., more than 40 years ago, I've been honored to work with some incredible people, and contribute my ideas and energy to issues I care about deeply. Caregiving is one of those issues, and it is something I have experienced firsthand. Several years ago, I became a caregiver when my husband, Bob, spent 11 months at Walter Reed Military Medical Center. During that time, and since, I’ve witnessed the incredible challenges facing the caregivers of our wounded warriors.
I saw a wife sleeping on a pallet next to her husband's bedside. I watched a mother tape Bible verses to the walls of her son's hospital room for inspiration and encouragement and saw a father keeping vigil day and night over his paralyzed son. The devotion, courage and love I saw were inspiring and deeply moving. And as I learned, their challenges only multiplied as they transitioned home.
Shortly after this experience, I established The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and our Hidden Heroes Campaign, to raise awareness and support for America’s 5.5 million military caregivers. The newest generation of caregivers from America's longest period of war has very urgent needs as they care for veterans, many of whom have invisible wounds like PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. In addition to their direct caregiving role, they must maintain emotional stability, manage medications and rehab, handle the family's financial and legal matters, and often raise children as well.
That's why I asked the Military Officers Association of America to partner with me to bring together the most innovative public and private organizations, along with experienced caregivers from across the nation, to assemble this online guide as a legal and financial resource for all of America’s hidden heroes.
Meeting the needs of military caregivers is a national issue that requires a comprehensive response. These hidden heroes toil for years, even decades, quietly and often in the shadows. Their tireless service must no longer be ignored, and their needs unaddressed. I'm grateful to the Military Officers Association of America for helping me on this mission, and working to meet this urgent need.