By Tara Mogan
In September 2016, Senator Elizabeth Dole and actor Tom Hanks launched the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes campaign for military caregivers. Campaign goals include increasing awareness of caregiver challenges and rallying support from communities to meet the needs of America’s 5.5 million military caregivers.
Other organizations such as Fisher House Foundation and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation also provide extensive caregiver support for military families.
For more than 25 years, Fisher House Foundation has served as a no-cost “home away from home” to families of patients being treated at military hospitals so that families could be near their loved ones. Offering more than 70 locations throughout the world, Fisher House Heroes Programs provide air travel support to families through donated frequent flyer miles.
The USO, a 75-year-old non-profit military support organization, offers three Warrior and Family Centers: one in Landstuhl, Germany; another near Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland; and at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The facilities offer specialized services and programs in a cozy setting, with classrooms, sports lounges, business centers and healing gardens created for recovering heroes and their families.
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Military Veteran Program (MVP) offers specialists trained to assist newly paralyzed service members and their caregivers; helping them to navigate the often confusing waters of military healthcare resources. The Foundation’s focus is assisting individuals with spinal cord injury and paralysis, with a goal of helping them to maximize their mobility, independence and quality of life.
Families and caregivers can feel overwhelmed when faced with the responsibility of caring for a wounded, ill or injured service member. A good place to start is to download the Department of Defense (DOD) Caregiver Resource Directory at www.caregiver.va.gov for a list of resources and benefit information.