Elizabeth Dole Foundation
Hidden Heroes Caregiver Journey Map Campaign for Inclusive Care
April 1, 2014

Hidden Heroes: Caregivers for Veterans

Hidden Heroes: Caregivers for Veterans
World news with Diane Sawyer

ABC US News | ABC Business News

Transcript: And next here tonight, we ask you to join with us on a special mission that has a direct impact on every community and every family across this country. As America’s wars end, tens of thousands of wounded veterans have been coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. And every day, every night, a hidden army of loving care givers take up a struggle of their own for the rest of their lives.

A groundbreaking new study was released late today, showing 1. 1 million care givers, younger than ever, at risk for major health problems of their own and they need help. So, tonight, coming home, a rallying cry for the people inside the world of hidden heroes.

Our wedding was incredible. Reporter: When a hero goes war, so does a family. All the dreams of all the families, of warriors who went off to fight with everything they had.

But when they were wounded, no one has a medal for the people now taking up their fight here at home. Like Jessica Klein with his six-foot tall westpoint grad husband ere ward Klein. Today, she’s the primary care giver as he fights his way back from an ied explosion in Afghanistan.

The loss of legs and arms, the must that allows him to sit down. A massive lower body injury. We know that his courage is incalculable, but how many days do you say, you can’t do it?

It’s too much. Pretty much daily. It’s funny.

The people around me have much more confidence in me and my abilities than I do. There’s the mother Teresa quote, god only givens you as much as I can handle. Apparently god thinks I’m pretty good.

She’s just one of the 1. 1 care givers for soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq, who do the impossible. She is tiny.

But his support at home. And when they travel — There have been times I had to pick my husband up and carry him. His legs failed.

Reporter: Showering and — I’ve had to pick him up soaking wet and try not to drop him while I’m standing one foot in the tub and one foot out. Reporter: She didn’t note someone caring for her husband at Walter reed was watching the other care givers. Former senator Elizabeth dole, seeing the towering battle that care givers face.

And she decided it was time for a nation to help. She commissioned a report to put some hard Numbers to these care givers. Is this a crisis?

I think it’s a crisis that really requires a national response. The needs of the care givers remain largely unknown. So, these are people who are just, you know, voluntarily — they’re an untamed work force, there’s no question.

Reporter: Great to see you. A majority, trying to juggle full-time jobs and full-time care giving and nearly 30% just can’t do it and have to give up jobs altogether. Did you have any doubts she’d be here?

No, no doubts. Reporter: Nearly a third have no health insurance for themselves. And nearly 40% at risk for major depression.

Depression, real depression? Yeah. I mean — it’s a process, but I grieve.

He grieves. We grieve together. We grieve apart, we, you know, there was a life we were supposed to have and we grieve for it, yeah.

It’s very difficult. Reporter: It’s what we heard all over the country, not only the medical responsibility of life and death, but being a therapist and taking on a system that can be famously bureaucratic. Constant battle every time we turn around.

Another red tape to jump through. The constant barrage of everything. Phone calls, the red tape, trying to reach a live person on the line.

She’s — as much a warrior to the V. A. As I was in Afghanistan.

Reporter: A nation coming home from war, but millions of care givers for whom the war will never end. Senator dole is organizing a nationwide effort to go state by state, combining faith organizations, government, business, nonprofits, to help the care gave givers. And standing by her, her husband — a war hero and once wounded himself, giving a salute to all of those who care for the wounded today.

I’m trying to inspire organizations and Americans all across this country to support these hidden heroes because their story really is not known across America. And these are the very people who are caring for those who cared for us. Reporter: So, do you want to say, just help us a little?

Just a little? I want to say, don’t forget about us. And in the coming days, we’re going to be telling you about some ideas, people just like you, your neighbors, already have to help these care givers.

If you want to learn more about all of this, go to our website, abcnews. com, and elizabethdolefoundation. org.