Joint Press

Former Senator Elizabeth Dole, actor Ryan Phillippe, and military caregivers advocate on behalf of our nation’s ‘Hidden Heroes'

RAND Corporation releases study on blueprint for research to effectively support military caregiver


Click HERE for Senator Collins’ opening statement
Click HERE for Senator Casey’s opening statement

Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, held a hearing focused on military caregivers, which featured experts, advocates, and veterans and their caregivers. In addition to bringing awareness to the challenges faced by military caregivers, the Committee unveiled a RAND Corporation report commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation on a blueprint to aid military caregivers going forward.

There are more than 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers in the United States. These spouses, parents, friends and other loved ones transform their lives to provide daily, essential care for those who have protected and served our nation.

“Military caregivers—America’s heroes in plain clothes—enable veterans living with visible and invisible injuries to recover and remain involved with their communities. The testimony provided by the advocates, veterans and their caregivers today enhanced Congress’ understanding of the difficulties faced by military caregivers and their needs going forward.” said Senator Collins. “In order to better serve our nation’s caregivers, I introduced the RAISE Family Caregivers Act and cosponsored the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act, and I look forward to seeing these bills signed into law. We must never forget our military caregivers, and we should do all that we can to support them.”

“Our service members and veterans put their lives on the line to ensure that America remains the home of the free for all of us,” Senator Casey said. “We rely on their commitment, and when they are wounded, they need ours. That is why I am proud to cosponsor the bipartisan Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act to help the military caregivers who work tirelessly to support our wounded service members and veterans from all eras. We need to do everything we can to recognize and support the dedication and service of these hidden heroes.”

Senator Dole established the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to empower military caregivers - the spouses, mothers, fathers, siblings, and other loved ones caring for wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans at home - and to recognize their service to our nation. Last September, as part of its efforts, the Foundation launched Hidden Heroes, a multifaceted campaign to expose the tremendous challenges and long-term needs faced by military caregivers and inspire fellow Americans to seek solutions.

“Now our awareness leads to action,” said Senator Dole. “Our goal moving forward is an America where military caregivers are empowered, appreciated and recognized for their service, an America where military caregivers are woven into the very fabric of the nation’s appreciation of our military. And we need the support of each and every American.”

Additionally, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation commissioned the RAND Corporation to develop a blueprint to forecast the most important areas where additional research is required to effectively support military caregivers’ long-term needs. With results released earlier today, RAND shared key findings during the hearing to help inform public, private, nonprofit, and faith communities on the most urgent areas where additional research and funding is needed to best support military caregivers long term.

Click HERE to read the RAND Corporation’s report

Witnesses for the hearing included:

Panel One
•    Senator Elizabeth Dole, Founder, Elizabeth Dole Foundation
•    Ryan Phillippe, Actor, Director, Writer, and Hidden Heroes Ambassador

Panel Two
•    Terri Tanielian, M.A., Senior Behavioral Scientist, the RAND Corporation, Arlington, VA
•    Melanie and Joe Swoboda (U.S. Army), Veteran Caregiver and Veteran, Levant, ME
•    Mary Hahn and Thomas Ward (USMC), Veteran Caregiver and Veteran, Wilmington, NC
•    Wanda and Samuel Ickes (U.S. Army), Veteran Caregiver and Veteran, Alum Bank, PA

Click HERE to read their testimonies.