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Elizabeth Dole: Hidden Heroes Summit to Honor Veterans' Caregivers

By    |   Monday, 18 May 2015 05:54 PM

The Hidden Heroes Summit scheduled for this week in Washington, D.C., will focus on spouses and other caregivers of war veterans.

Former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, whose foundation is sponsoring the three-day event, told Newsmax TV's "Newsmax Prime" on Monday that there is a "societal crisis that must have a national response."

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Dole said she will be announce many initiatives being undertaken with more than 100 partnering organizations.

The summit "will also be hearing from my caregiver fellows and from different corporations and nonprofit organizations, from members of the Congress as to what's been accomplished" over the past year.

First lady Michelle Obama will be joining Dole at the summit, along with Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald, pastor Joel Osteen and actor Tom Hanks, who will appear by video.

Dole was first inspired by veterans' caregivers five years ago, when her husband, former Sen. Bob Dole, was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

During Bob Dole's 11-month stay at Walter Reed, Elizabeth Dole's daily visits exposed her to "these hidden heroes, young spouses, mothers, fathers, siblings, other loved ones trying to care for those who've cared for us, for the wounded warriors."

Dole said she saw the caregivers struggle because many of the wounded had multiple injuries, illnesses and wounds.

"They were trying to coordinate across medical systems with different structures to determine the benefits that the wounded would have," she said.

"They were really trying to prevent triggers from setting off an emotional episode that could last for some time, and worrying about how, when they got home from the hospital, they'd be able to manage all of the medications and arranging for rehabilitation and just so much more."

Many had young children to care for, as well.

Dole created the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Caring for Military Families, to raise awareness about caregivers and their needs. She commissioned a RAND Corporation study two years ago to look into needs and where there are gaps in services, policies, and programs.

Veterans Affairs Secretary McDonald has been helpful trying to address caregiver needs, Dole said.

"He has started a veterans advisory board, and with his background in business, yes, there's more that the Veterans [Affairs] must do," she told host J.D. Hayworth.

The Hidden Heroes Summit will take place Tuesday through Thursday.

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The Hidden Heroes Summit scheduled for this week in Washington, D.C., will focus on spouses and other caregivers of war veterans.
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2015-54-18
Monday, 18 May 2015 05:54 PM
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