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Thousands of leaders, advocates, and caregivers unite around action at Seventh Annual National Convening for Veteran Caregivers

Thousands of leaders, advocates, and caregivers unite around action at Seventh Annual National Convening for Veteran Caregivers

Foundation announced expansion of free respite program and new caregiver-to-survivor partnership, and VA leaders participated in candid conversation on VA caregiver programs

Washington, D.C. (May 19, 2022)— The Elizabeth Dole Foundation and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) co-hosted the seventh annual National Convening on Veteran Caregivers, “Bold Steps for the Future: Action, Policy, & Priorities,” on May 18, in Washington, D.C. and virtually.

Presented by Philips, the Convening united government, nonprofit, and corporate leaders and caregivers around achieving policies and priorities that will create a better future for caregivers. The event followed the Foundation’s 10th Anniversary celebration on May 17, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Susan Collins, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised the Foundation’s progress and called on the nation to join in their mission.

During the Convening, the Foundation announced that its Respite Relief program, sponsored by CareLinx by Sharecare and Wounded Warrior Project, had surpassed $1 million worth of donated professional care services to military caregivers. The Foundation also released details on the program’s upcoming expansion. Soon, veterans caring for a civilian, caregivers of surviving military spouses, and veterans who need professional care support will be eligible to request free respite services.

The Convening took place as the Foundation marks its 10th anniversary. Senator Elizabeth Dole credited much of the Foundation’s success to its ability to unite a broad coalition around caregivers. “When our Foundation first took on our mission 10 years ago, we did not align with any particular sector, team, or political party. Rather, we worked with anyone with a compassionate heart who recognized what our nation owed our hidden heroes. And that has made all the difference.”

More than 40 Dole Caregiver Fellows traveled from across the country to participate in the event with many eager to hear updates on VA caregiver services. VA Deputy Secretary Donald Remy emphasized the VA’s decision to halt all caregiver transitions out of the VA Program for Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) until the VA could determine how to minimize any adverse effects for caregivers. He also reiterated that assessments would continue so caregivers can continue to receive the support they needed.

Speaking directly to caregivers about PCAFC, Remy said, “For anybody in the room and anyone watching, I realize trust is earned. It is not given. We need to demonstrate that this program is living up to its promises. The VA needs to show that we are good caretakers of the caregiver program.”

Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, opened the Convening by recounting how the Foundation and VA have collaborated for the last decade on transforming the military caregiver experience. Schwab said, “Step by step, layer by layer, we are changing the system, so that it is more supportive, inclusive, and responsive to military caregivers.”

The Foundation also continued forging new partnerships with other nonprofits. A new partnership with the Foundation, TAPS, and the American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network, creating a new initiative to support caregivers when they transition to the role of survivor. The partnership will create greater understanding and resources within the VA and beyond for these survivors.

VA professionals that have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to including caregivers in the veteran healthcare team were recognized with the Campaign for Inclusive Care Awards. The winners were Dr. Jeremy Friewald from the Wilkes Barre VA Medical Center in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, and Dr. Rebecca Tapia from the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

The Convening was part of a week of celebrations and advocacy for the Foundation. On May 17, the Foundation took its Dole Caregiver Fellows to Capitol Hill to discuss caregiver issues with their Members of Congress. The Fellows also participated in training to empower them as representatives to raise recognition for the more than 5.5 million Americans serving of military caregivers when they return home.


About Elizabeth Dole Foundation and Hidden Heroes

The 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 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. Learn more about the Elizabeth Dole Foundation at hiddenheroes.org.

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people’s health and well-being, 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. Philips generated 2021 sales of EUR 17.2 billion and employs approximately 78,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at www.philips.com/newscenter.