Military caregivers from across the nation selected to represent their communities and advocate on behalf of the 5.5 million Americans caring for a wounded, ill, or injured veteran.
Washington, D.C. (July 14, 2021) – The Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced the 2021 class of Dole Caregiver Fellows. Eleven military and veteran caregivers will join the 225 past and present Dole Caregiver Fellows who represent all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia to bring attention to the tremendous challenges facing America’s 5.5 million hidden heroes – the spouses, parents, family members, and other loved ones who provide more than $14 billion in voluntary care for wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans every year.
Dole Caregiver Fellows are leaders, community organizers, and advocates for military caregivers in their states and nationwide. They are trained by the Foundation and empowered to share their stories directly with national leaders in the White House, Congress, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and other government agencies, as well as decision makers in the business, entertainment, faith, and nonprofit communities. The Fellows guide the Foundation, its coalition partners, and government and community leaders on the most pressing issues concerning military caregivers and influence positive change on behalf of these hidden heroes.
“Our Fellows are the heart and soul of our work, and with this year’s class, we are adding to the diversity of voices representing America’s hidden heroes,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “Among our 2021 Fellows are caregivers who assist veterans suffering from the effects of Agent Orange and burn pits, service wounds compounded by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and cognitive wounds requiring full-time residence in a nursing facility. Through their advocacy, these Fellows will be calling attention to the most urgent, emerging issues facing caregivers, as well as decades-old problems that demand our nation’s action.”
Senator Elizabeth Dole created the Dole Caregiver Fellows program in 2012 to directly engage military and veteran caregivers in the Foundation’s mission. The 2021 class represents eight states and includes a grown son caring for his father who struggles with untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the Vietnam War; a 33-year-old daughter balancing care of her veteran father with her career and master’s degree program and completing her master’s degree; and a wife who assumed care of her husband and pulled the family back from the brink of homelessness. Also, for the first time, the Foundation has accepted a professional caregiver fellow who goes above and beyond in his care of veterans, often voluntarily extending his hours to assist them as a friend. His experience will provide a valuable role of speaking for family caregivers who struggle with their own health and are unable to advocate for themselves.
The 2021 Dole Caregiver Fellows include:
- Jose Alvarez-Santa Ana, California
- Ilihia Gionson-Kailua Kona, Hawaii
- Angelena Taylor-Detroit, Michigan
- April Mulvey-Birdsboro, Pennsylvania
- Georgette Wenton-Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
- Jenny Briest-Yankton, South Dakota
- Debra Barker-Dayton, Texas
- Linda Mais-El Paso, Texas
- Candace Laguna-Temple, Texas
- Kristin Christensen-Everett, Washington
- Chris Hahn, Berlin, Wisconsin
If you are interested in conducting an interview with a 2021 Dole Caregiver Fellow, or with a spokesperson from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, please contact Austin Courtney at [email protected].
About the Elizabeth Dole Foundation & Hidden Heroes
Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent 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 Senator Elizabeth 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 hiddenheroes.org for more information.