Vice President Mike Pence addresses the Third Annual National Convening “Hidden Heroes Among Us: Enhancing Support for the Military and Veteran Caregiver Journey” hosted by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Philips on November 26 at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Lisa Nipp)
Vice President Mike Pence joined Senator Elizabeth Dole, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar recently to call for greater awareness and support of those caring for wounded, ill or injured service members and veterans. The leaders addressed 400 service providers, government and nonprofit leaders, advocates, caregivers and veterans at the Third Annual National Convening “Hidden Heroes Among Us: Enhancing Support for the Military and Veteran Caregiver Journey” hosted by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Philips at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.
This year’s event centered on the debut of the Military and Veteran Caregiver Experience Map, a new interactive online tool developed by the Foundation, Philips, VA and their partners to help health care professionals and service providers better identify and understand the landmarks and milestones of a caregiver’s journey. By mapping out key points where the right people, organizations, and service providers can step in and support caregivers as they adapt to their new way of life, the map will enable resources offered to caregivers to become more effective and efficient.
“Even in light of the progress we have made for military caregivers, our nation still knows too little about these hidden heroes, specifically the different stages of the caregiver journey and the sources of support needed at every step along the way,” said Dole, founder of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “Thanks to the collaboration and support of VA and Philips, we now have a universal tool that will help ensure we provide caregivers the right resources at the right time.”
“The Military and Veteran Caregiver Experience Map is a living, interactive platform designed to be evolved and improved by those who want to assist help the families of the men and women called to serve our country,” said Joe Robinson, Senior Vice President, Health Systems Solutions, Philips North America. “Through such initiatives we can help reduce hospital visits, costs and caregiver fatigue, while increasing the capacity of the VA and other institutions who care for Veterans. This project is a natural extension of our 47-year partnership with the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration and core to achieving our goal of improving 3 billion lives per year by 2025.”
In addition to the keynote speakers and digital demos, this year’s convening featured a series of dynamic panel discussions. Taking their cues from the information contained in the map, the sessions focused on the importance of receiving care at home, telehealth and virtual care options, and the role caregivers play as the first line of defense against veteran suicide and substance abuse. The convening also featured a panel of Dole Caregiver Fellows, active military and veteran caregivers representing all fifty states and Puerto Rico, who shared the unique challenges they face along their caregiving journeys.
“Everything we do at VA is guided by our commitment to provide Veterans the world class health care and benefits they have earned and deserve,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “That means supporting their families too, and their caregivers. That is our important and non-negotiable commitment to our nation’s heroes.”
Dole was the first to call the nation’s attention to the 5.5 million Americans caring for a wounded, ill or injured service member or veteran at home. A 2014 RAND study commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation found that these caregivers face increased emotional and physical stress, financial and legal troubles, employment difficulties and feelings of isolation due to the enormous responsibility and severe lack of resources for those caring for someone who served.
About Elizabeth Dole Foundation and Hidden Heroes
Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the pre-eminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers — the spouses, parents, family members, and friends — who care for America’s wounded, ill or injured service members and veterans at home. Founded by Dole in 2012, the foundation adopts a comprehensive approach in its support and advocacy, working with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit and faith communities to recognize military caregivers’ service and promote their well-being. The foundation’s Hidden Heroes campaign brings vital attention to the untold stories of military caregivers and provides a network for military caregivers to connect with their peers and access carefully vetted resources. Visit www.hiddenheroes.org for more information.
About Royal Philips
Royal Philips is a leading health technology company focused on improving people’s health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care.