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

National Caregivers Day

National Caregivers Day

COVID-19 Won’t Slow Down Campaign to Empower Caregivers and Care Teams

As part of our celebration of caregivers on National Caregivers Day, it’s important to recognize the health care professionals and veteran caregivers that have helped to keep our nation’s heroes healthy and safe at home, especially amid COVID-19. It’s not surprising that many in our veteran community suffer from a number of complex health conditions, including mental health issues, heart and lung diseases, substance abuse, and much more. 

With such strains on the health care system during this unprecedented time, ensuring our veterans are cared for is more important than ever. However, despite fighting for our nation and sacrificing their own health, veterans have had difficulties accessing care as a result of COVID-19, just like the rest of the country. 



Rescheduled or cancelled doctors’ appointments, difficulty retrieving prescriptions, and modified care have become the new normal, underscoring the need to support these caregivers—who are providing care for our wounded, ill or injured veterans at home, all while trying to keep themselves healthy and safe. 

At the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, we have long recognized the integral part a caregiver plays on a veteran’s health care team. These hidden heroes are the family members, spouses, friends, and loved ones who remain by the side of their veteran throughout their care journey.



It’s one of the many reasons that we launched our Campaign for Inclusive Care alongside the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and USAA last year. This initiative is meant to increase communication and collaboration between military and veteran caregivers and VA medical providers so that veteran health outcomes are improved, the caregiving experience is better, and clinicians are more supported in their very important work. 

A lot has certainly changed since our initial launch in January, 2020. And the new challenges before veterans and their caregivers have only re-emphasized the timely necessity of the Campaign for Inclusive Care’s mission and goal. 

Since its launch and in spite of the pandemic, hundreds of clinicians and staff from VA medical centers and facilities around the country have taken part in thousands of hours of training through the Campaign for Inclusive Care’s online Academy, which trains and instructs participants how best to empower caregivers and to incorporate them into their loved one’s care team. Enrollees have come from all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico. We estimate that our work thus far has impacted well over 300,000 caregivers—and we’ve only just begun.

During and following the campaign pilot, we also worked to identify the top barriers to inclusion, and we maintain our commitment to addressing them. Providers often feel that they are stretched too thin to communicate with caregivers. 

After developing knowledge and understanding of the impacts of inclusive care, providers were more likely to report the need to collaborate and communicate with caregivers. Additionally, we found that providers maintain a much higher level of confidence, desire, and enthusiasm to practice inclusive care following the completion of the Academy for Inclusive Care program. 

Recently, with the successful completion of the program’s pilot, we, alongside the US Department of Veterans Affairs are proud to announce a huge milestone in the expansion of the Campaign for Inclusive Care across the VA, system-wide. 

In honor of National Caregivers Day, it’s important to acknowledge the continued need to bolster veteran families nationwide given the great commitments they’ve made to our country. On behalf of the Dole Foundation, I want to express our gratitude to USAA and VA’s partnership in carrying out the Campaign for Inclusive Care—and for all the support they provide our veterans, caregivers, and their families. 

Even amidst a great crisis, we can improve and sustain positive health outcomes for veterans, and I look forward to this initiative’s continued growth.

Coleton Whitaker is the Director of Programs at the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, raising awareness and support for our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers. Learn more about the Campaign for Inclusive Care at campaignforinclusivecare.org.