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Elizabeth Dole Foundation Announces Hidden Heroes 2017 Grant Recipients

Awards to Help 14 Nonprofits Expand or Create New Services for Caregivers

Washington, D.C. – The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, through its Hidden Heroes initiative, awarded more than a half million dollars in grants to fourteen nonprofit organizations to expand existing programs or create new services to support military caregivers. The 2017 grant recipients were competitively selected from among nearly 150 applications from organizations nationally.

“When the Foundation launched Hidden Heroes in September, we renewed our commitment to do all we can to improve the lives of military caregivers, those spouses, mothers, dads, children, siblings, and friends who are caring for America’s wounded warriors,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole. “As part of this multifaceted initiative, we established the Hidden Heroes Fund to award grants to nonprofit organizations that are making a real difference in the lives of America’s military and veteran caregivers.”

Selection criteria for the grants include: the organization’s effectiveness in addressing military caregivers’ unique needs as determined by the Foundation-commissioned RAND study which established baseline research on the status of military caregivers; alignment with the Foundation’s eight critical impact areas: community support at home, education and training, employment, faith and spirituality, financial and legal support, mental and physical health, military family support and respite care; use of evidence-based resources to inform the creation of effective programming for caregivers; and the replicability of the program.

“Hidden Heroes is proud to serve as a catalyst to encourage, grow and expand programs that directly impact the lives of our nation’s military and veteran caregivers. These programs have potential for growth, are replicable and will produce results that can be shared with other organizations and communities nationwide,” said Elizabeth Dole Foundation Executive Director Steve Schwab.

The 2017 Hidden Heroes Fund grant recipients and program descriptions follow:

The American Red Cross will develop a new caregiver-specific module for its Reconnection Workshops. Through this grant, the Red Cross will develop a new set of effective, free and confidential skill-building workshops led by military-competent, licensed mental health professionals that will help military caregivers and their children more effectively cope with the unique demands of caring for a wounded, ill and injured service member.

Blue Star Families, which aims to strengthen and support military families, will amplify its Caregiver Respite Program. This program will offer 14 respite events that promote caregiver self-care and peer connections to over 200 caregivers and their families who may not have a community of their own. The events will be held in Washington, D.C., San Antonio and San Diego. As a follow-up to this program, Blue Star Families and the Foundation will collaborate to create a “caregiver respite event” toolkit for cities across the nation to use as a model to create their own respite programs serving local military and veteran caregivers.

Centerstone Military Services, which provides critical counseling and therapeutic services to military members and their families, will extend its innovative Online Support program. This program offers more than 300 online support groups and training for mental health professionals who treat core issues specific to military caregivers and their families.

Code of Support Foundation, which provides essential one-on- one case management assistance to struggling service members, veterans and their families, received a grant to employ their first-ever Military Caregiver Peer Navigator, who will provide critical support and resource navigation counsel to more than 500 caregivers and their families in 2017.

Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program, heals the invisible wounds of war for post-9/11 veterans, service members and their families. Home Base will develop and pilot a first-of- its-kind online mind-body intervention to support resilience among military and veteran caregivers.

The Military Family Research Institute (MFRI), which works closely with collaborators across the nation to improve the lives of service members and their families, will begin development of their groundbreaking Measuring Communities tool. This tool will take information captured through HiddenHeroes.org and the Hidden Heroes Cities Program, and combine it with data from other organizations to create a fuller picture of the strengths and gaps in military family support in communities nationwide.

Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), which focuses on ensuring quality education opportunities for all military children, will offer its acclaimed Supporting Veterans’ Children through Transitions course to Dole Caregiver Fellows as a component of their annual training program in Washington, D.C. in 2017. The course will teach participants about unique transitional issues children face when their parents separate from the military and identify needs for children and youth whose military-connected parents have died, been wounded, or have combat related illnesses.

Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the nation’s largest association of military officers, will update its Guide for the Legal and Financial Aspects of Caregiving, a product the Elizabeth Dole Foundation helped launch in 2014. These necessary updates will help ensure that the guide accurately reflects the current and evolving needs for military and veteran caregivers across the nation.

Project Sanctuary, an innovative therapeutic program that focuses on strengthening military families during the stressful times of deployment, transition and reintegration, will expand its program offering retreats nationwide and will, in 2017, reach an additional 325 families for 27 additional retreats with a Hidden Heroes Fund grant.

Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm, will renew its proven caregiver program, ensuring its ability to continue to provide legal services to military and veteran caregivers, and their families, at no cost. Initially funded and launched by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation as part of its Lawyers for Heroes initiative, the program has helped military and veteran caregivers obtain a total of $1.2 million in retroactive benefits, and on average triple their monthly income.

Southern Caregiver Resource Center has a 30-year history of providing comprehensive, free support services for family caregivers caring for adults with chronic and/or disabling conditions in the Southern California region. Through this grant, SCRC will continue and expand Operation Family Caregiver as well as other support services to help military caregivers throughout California learn to balance their needs against the demands of caregiving.

Tidewater Arts Outreach (TAO), which shares the joy and healing power of arts with those who have limited access to respite due to health, economic or social circumstances, will provide 12 monthly arts programs to military caregivers living in Hampton Roads, VA. This program will become a replicable model for the Foundation to provide outreach at VA Facilities across America.

Vail Veterans Program, which provides outdoor programs to injured service members and their families, will expand their caregiver retreats program to offer two new retreats in the fall of 2017. The retreats allow caregivers a relaxing respite from their responsibilities and the chance to connect with other caregivers facing similar challenges.

Yellow Ribbon Fund (YRF) assists military families through the difficulty of transition/reintegration by providing community support and financial assistance. In 2017, Yellow Ribbon Fund will extend their Family Caregiver Program further on a national level. Having recently branched out to Kentucky, southern California, North Carolina, and Texas, YRF will expand those programs and add a Colorado location.

For interviews with Elizabeth Dole Foundation Executive Director Steve Schwab and grant recipients, please contact Austin Courtney at [email protected] or 202-414- 0791.

About The Elizabeth Dole Foundation

The mission of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation is to strengthen and empower America’s military caregivers and their families by raising public awareness, driving research, championing policy, and leading collaborations that make a significant impact on their lives. Learn more about Hidden Heroes at www.HiddenHeroes.org.

About Hidden Heroes

Hidden Heroes, an initiative of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, brings vital attention to the untold stories of military caregivers and seeks solutions for the tremendous challenges and long-term needs they face. Hidden Heroes’ goals are to raise awareness of the issues military caregivers confront every day, inspire individuals, businesses, communities, and civic, faith and government leaders to take action in supporting military caregivers in their communities, and establish a national registry, encouraging military caregivers to register at HiddenHeroes.org to better connect them to helpful resources and support.