Representatives Julia Brownley (D-CA-26) and Jack Bergman (R-MI-01) introduced The Elizabeth Dole Act. This bipartisan, comprehensive, and transformative legislation is named in honor of Senator Elizabeth Dole as a testament to her advocacy on behalf of the nation’s 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers.
Recently, within the very chamber Senator Elizabeth Dole served, Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Jon Tester (D-MT), of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) introduced the Senate version of The Elizabeth Dole Act, underscoring the momentum this bill has achieved in Congress, and the bipartisan spirit we’re witnessing for supporting our nation’s hidden heroes.
WHAT DOES THE BILL DO
The Elizabeth Dole Act reinvests in caregiver support at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, establishes a user-friendly resource center, and expands VA Home-Based Community Services nationwide. This legislation provides greater access to resources and helps to determine which services provide optimal support for the caregiver and their family as they navigate a complex web of available help.
Among its many provisions, The Elizabeth Dole Act would:
- Improve the transition of caregivers who are ineligible for or were discharged from the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) and establish automatic enrollment in the Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS).
- Require the development of a standardized assessment tool to help assess the needs of the family and recommend specific Home and Community-Based Services.
- Create a digital hub for caregiver resources.
- Expand VA Home-Based Community Services and leverage caregiver-inclusive language.
- Commission a VA report with recommendations on how VA might expand mental health services and support for caregivers.
- Enhance coordination of the VA with nonprofits and Veteran Service Organizations to address gaps in resources and work collaboratively to support the military caregiving community.
“Representatives Brownley and Bergman are passionate champions of America’s veterans, their families, and caregivers. This transformative bill,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole, “reinforces that our nation can only provide world-class care for our veterans if we also provide world-class, systemic support to their caregivers. I am humbled that this legislation bears my name, and I am hopeful the bill receives the support it deserves.
“Fittingly, this bill is a true reflection of Senator Elizabeth Dole’s legacy,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “It helps uphold the promise our nation makes to the military families bearing the wounds and illnesses of war. It is precisely focused on providing solutions that will directly address the most common and persistent hardships of our veterans, their families, and their caregivers. We applaud Senators Moran, Hassan, and Tester for bringing this transformative legislation to the Senate floor.”
HOW YOU CAN ACT
Senator Elizabeth Dole has provided a voice to the millions of hidden heroes and shined a light on the unimaginable, but real, challenges they face each day. To help us drive our mission forward, we encourage you to use your voice and contact your senators and representative today to ask them to cosponsor The Elizabeth Dole Act. You can find your senator using the directory, here. Your representative can be located, here.
We’ve provided a comprehensive toolkit with graphics, sample social media copy, and scripts to help you tell your Members of Congress that you support The Elizabeth Dole Act and that you stand by our hidden heroes and their families. You can also download an informational one-pager about the bill to share with legislators and help further your conversations.
This is the first of many steps in the Foundation’s efforts to help military and veteran caregivers receive the benefits and support they are rightfully owed for their service and sacrifices. We’re grateful for your efforts.
Senator Elizabeth Dole has made it her lifelong commitment to transforming government systems so that they better address the needs of citizens and families. Over the past decade, Senator and the Foundation have empowered, supported, and honored the nation’s military caregivers: the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans. Through this new legislation, caregivers, veterans, and their families will have a seamless experience as they navigate the existing maze of available services.
As a daughter, sister, and niece of veterans, Congresswoman Brownley of California, who serves as Chairwoman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health, has made it a priority throughout her time in Congress to improve veterans’ access to mental and physical health care and help service members transition from the military to the VA healthcare system. Serving 40 years in the United States Marine Corps and rising to the rank of Lieutenant General, Michigan’s Ranking Member Jack Bergman of HVAC’s Subcommittee on Health represents one of the highest percentages of veterans of any congressional district in the country and has helped author groundbreaking veterans’ legislation.
Senators Moran, Hassan, and Tester of SVAC continuously work to improve the quality of life for veterans across our nation, ensure access to the care they are rightfully owed and pass impactful legislative reform to strengthen services for our veterans and their families.
This post was originally published on March 1 and has been updated with additional information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.