You’re Not Alone: Support for Military Family Caregivers
Many family caregivers – more than 5.5. million – look after wounded, ill or injured U.S. military veterans and service members1. All told, they provide $14 billion in uncompensated, voluntary care2. While tending to our elders is a privilege, we can sometimes experience financial, emotional and physical stress from the experience.
That’s why Philips supports the work of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation (EDF) and its Hidden Heroes Campaign, which exists solely to recognize, support, and empower the men and women caring for our country’s wounded, ill, and injured veterans at home.
“We’re striving to build a nation and local communities that support and empower caregivers at every level,” says Rashi Romanoff, EDF’s Vice President of Programs and Partnerships.
Creating a Community of Caregivers
“The first step in achieving this goal is helping military and veteran caregivers self-identify and recognize that they are a vital member of their veteran’s care team and their most important support,” she continues. “This is one of our main challenges, as many caregivers believe they are just being a supportive spouse, parent or child.” This perspective prevents many caregivers from asking for or accessing the support they deserve.
That’s where the Hidden Heroes Campaign comes in. The awareness initiative, supported in part by Philips, helps military caregivers self-identify and teaches Americans about the roles these family members serve. “Together, we have launched a national – if not global – dialogue around support available for military and veteran caregivers,” she adds.
Supporting Military and Veterans’ Caregivers
Family caregivers of service members and veterans can access a number of Hidden Heroes supports, including:
- Online resources. The Hidden Heroes website serves as a national registry and peer support community for military caregivers. Registration is free and enables you to search for resources in your area, learn more about being a caregiver and advocate on behalf of yourself and your care recipient.
- Virtual community. You don’t have to take this journey on your own. Registered users gain access to the Hidden Heroes Caregiver Community Facebook group exclusively for caregivers. “This group has brought hope to thousands of caregivers who thought they were alone on this journey,” Romanoff says. “Having a support system of people who really get it is invaluable.”
- In-person events. The Hidden Heroes Cities and Counties Program mobilizes communities to celebrate and support local military caregivers. The Annual National Convening gives caregivers a forum to talk about their experiences and needs with leaders from the VA; the Departments of Defense, and Health and Human Services; researchers; and support organizations.
- Educational information. EDF collaborated with Philips and the VA on the Military & Veteran Caregiver Experience Map, which shows when and how the people, organizations and service providers can help as you adapt to new roles and challenges. A better understanding of the journey can lead to better outcomes for you and your care recipient. More than 1,000 VA clinical staff and nearly 1,000 private-sector clinicians have been trained to use the map with caregivers.
The VA also offers two great resources for people who care for military personnel or veterans:
Don’t hesitate to take advantage of support available to families caring for veterans or military personnel. You’re not alone – we’ve got your back.
Learn more about how one military family uses technology like medication dispensers and personal emergency alert systems to stay safer and boost peace of mind.