Elizabeth Dole Foundation
Hidden Heroes
Caregiver Journey Map Campaign for Inclusive Care

Lean On Us

Lean On Us
Blog

Support for veteran families amid events in Afghanistan

The last several days have been painful and emotional for so many of us. Our troops are coming home from Afghanistan, ending the longest period of war in our nation’s history. The images, the developments on the ground, and the evacuation challenges have been tough to watch.

We know countless veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors are hurting and confused right now. We hope to provide comfort and guidance to help you through this difficult time.

“My husband Bob & I honor the selfless service you provided (and continue to provide)…whether in uniform…or at home as a caregiver or family member. Your service mattered…your mission matters greatly.”  

Watch Senator Elizabeth Dole’s special message to veterans and military families, here.


On August 31st, the longest period of war in America’s history came to an end. We understand that when our troops return home from war, their scars and wounds don’t disappear. Our work to support hidden heroes is more important than ever before. Read below the full statement from our CEO.


On Thursday, August 19th, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation convened national mental health experts for Afghanistan: How Do We Talk About It?

Countless veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors have been struggling with the images and ramifications of the events unfolding in Afghanistan.

During this one-hour interactive session, attendees had the opportunity to ask questions and get answers from experts in real time.

During this session we discussed:

  • How to explain how you are feeling to friends and families who don’t understand and may not be impacted by the news.
  • How to support veterans during this difficult time and reinforce that their service MATTERS.
  • How to talk with your children and/or adolescents who may not understand what they’re seeing or hearing.
  • What resources are available to support you and your family during this time.
  • Ways we can educate civilian medical providers both within and outside of VAMC’s so they can better understand how this is impacting Veterans in real time.

Expert Speakers Included: Sonya Norman, PhD, Director, PTSD Consultation Program, National Center for PTSD; Rebecca Mullaney, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor; Caitlin Thompson, PhD, Vice President Community Partnerships, Cohen Veterans Network; Amit Sood, MD, Executive Director, Global Center for Resiliency and Wellbeing; and Steve Schwab, CEO, Elizabeth Dole Foundation.

We know this is tough to talk about, and we know you need some help. We’re struggling to find the right words too. So, let’s come together and learn from one another and the experts.


Below you’ll find a list of the resources identified by our panel of experts or mentioned in the chat box during the broadcast. We will continue to update this list in the days and weeks ahead.

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is also proud to recognize and support efforts led by our Dole Caregiver Fellows to offer vital assistance to Afghan allies and US citizens attempting to leave Afghanistan for the United States. Please visit this website to learn more: https://saveourafghanallies.com/.

The individuals behind this effort are a diverse coalition of veterans, military caregivers, Dole Foundation Fellows, active-duty military spouses, NGO alums, humanitarian activists, and concerned Americans. They have one focus – fulfill America’s promise and get allies and citizens out safely. This grassroots organizing effort is already making a difference. If you want to support their efforts, you can sign up on their website.


Like so many of you, we are incredibly saddened by the developments in Afghanistan over the last several days. This is a particularly difficult time, both physically and mentally, for our veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors. We can’t waste a minute in extending our love, appreciation, and support. To this end, the Foundation is quickly building on our current mission by delivering timely information, resources, and support to these families in need right now.  

If you are a loved one caring for a service member or veteran, please know we are here to help you through what will be challenging days and weeks ahead. Below is a list of free resources available to you: 

  • Get expert advice: We know this is a challenging topic to talk about with your veteran. Join us in the coming days for a discussion led by a team of experts to learn tips for navigating this time with your veteran. If you’d like to participate, complete this two-minute survey to share your questions/concerns here.    
  • Lean on us & our peer support community: Give and receive emotional support to other caregivers through peer-lead social interaction in a private, safe, and welcoming virtual space. Join our Hidden Heroes Caregiver Community today by registering here. Staff specialists are offering timely support and interventions around these recent events and stand ready to support you.  
  • Give yourself permission to recharge: During this challenging time, the last thing you need to worry about is your to-do list of chores at home. Through our free Respite Relief program, you can step back, get out of the house – away from the news and heartbreaking images, and take time to regroup. We are providing FREE trained caregivers to assist you with housekeeping, meal prep, grocery shopping, and more, so you can focus on supporting yourself and your veteran. Apply for free help in less than 10 minutes here.  
  • Let us know how we can help: Trust and know that we are here for you. If there is a service that the Foundation or any other organization is not currently offering that you are in need of, please contact us at [email protected] We will be tracking needs and responding as quickly as we can.  

Finally – a message to those who have not served: It’s up to us as individuals, as families and local support systems, to remind all service members and veterans how grateful we are for the sacrifices they have made on our behalf. Now more than ever, we need to stand by those who stood by us.  

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation team is here for you today and in the weeks and months ahead. 

As a reminder, if you or a loved one are in crisis, contact the Veterans Crisis Line right away. Call 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 if you’re a Veteran) or text 838255.  


We’ve heard from caregivers and veterans who need help, as they find themselves struggling under the weight of the news from Afghanistan. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation partners with Sesame Workshop to bring caregivers and their families valuable tools and resources to talk about the devastating events. Our Lean On Us: Advice for Talking with Your Veteran and Your Family About Afghanistan guide will help you through these difficult, but important conversations to have .