On March 16, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation participated in “When War Comes Home,” a conference on improving the behavioral health of veteran families hosted by our partners at the Code of Support Foundation. Leaders and representatives from the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, corporations, foundations, faith communities, nonprofits and academia led conversations that explored existing data and evidence that measured the behavioral health needs of military families. Caregivers participated in a panel to provide an intimate look at some of the most complex and devastating challenges our hidden heroes face at home. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation provided additional caregiver perspective and offered the resources of our Impact Councils to help carry out solutions to the problems discussed during the event.
One of the challenges that arose repeatedly during the conference, and one that the Elizabeth Dole Foundation is actively working to address, is the identification of caregivers. No organization currently has a direct connection with a significant percentage of military and veteran caregivers. This missing link restricts resources from reaching caregivers and keeps caregivers from connecting with each other. As a result, those caring for our wounded, ill, and injured warriors go without valuable services and endure feelings of isolation.
The Hidden Heroes Campaign that we will launch later this year will devote much of its initial focus to helping individuals self-identify as caregivers. Caregivers will then be able to sign up for the resources already being developed by our National Coalition Partners. Our Community Support at Home Impact Council is developing tools that we can use to teach people what it means to be a caregiver. And our Hidden Heroes Caregiver Community is already providing caregivers a place to come together where they can receive resources and connect with one another in a safe space.