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Elizabeth Dole and VA Secretary McDonough address National Convening as leaders announce new nationwide study of military caregivers

Elizabeth Dole and VA Secretary McDonough address National Convening as leaders announce new nationwide study of military caregivers
News

Washington, D.C. (November 1, 2021)— The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, U.S Department of Veterans Affairs and presenting sponsor Philips co-hosted the virtual Sixth Annual National Convening “Driving Impact: Making A Difference,” on October 29. Senator Elizabeth Dole and The Honorable Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, spoke directly to the concerns of America’s 5.5 million military caregivers and the progress the nation has made over the last year on their behalf. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation also announced that it has commissioned RAND Corporation to conduct a second nationwide study of military caregivers, exploring where America’s hidden heroes still need more support.  

“I know that at times throughout VA’s history, caregivers have been overlooked, or not included, or not appreciated for the back-breaking work they do, and the incredible service that they provide,” said Secretary McDonough. “But, I’m here today to say, to any caregiver watching, that those days are over.” 

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s new RAND study will be its next generation of landmark research on military caregivers. The initiative is a follow-up to the Foundation’s 2014 RAND study, which was the first nationwide evidence-based research conducted on those caring for service members and veterans. The Foundation is receiving generous support for the study from Lilly Endowment Inc. and Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), who also sponsored the National Convening. 

“Our first study with RAND was so profound and instructive that it enabled us to launch a movement behind our military caregivers,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “This second generation of research is going to tell us more about the military caregivers and care recipients who are historically underserved by current resources, so we can ensure they have the support they need and deserve.” 

Through the study, the Foundation hopes to measure changes and progress made since the 2014 report and measure how demographics, including geographic location, race, and gender, affect caregiving. The resulting data will provide resources enabling the Foundation and its partners to design more sophisticated and customized caregiver solutions and make critical inroads with underserved populations. 

“The Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s first study in 2014 greatly helped the military-veteran community understand the importance of caring for the injured as well as their caregivers in order for the whole family to fully thrive,” said WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington. “Wounded Warrior Project was proud to support that study, and we are once again proud to join the Foundation and RAND on this new groundbreaking report to help us all continue to provide for our nation’s hidden heroes.” 

The Foundation also presented the first Campaign for Inclusive Care Champion Awards to two VA providers and one facility for going above and beyond to include caregivers in their veterans’ care teams. The individual winners were Sherry L. Jacks, RN, Inpatient Care at the Kansas City VA Medical Center and Dr. Gustin Welch, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Primary Care Physician at Fort Benning VA Clinic. The Inclusive Care Facility Award went to White River Junction VA Media Center in Vermont. 

As part of the convening, the Foundation held a virtual career fair for caregivers to interact directly with Fortune 500 companies and national employers with caregiver-friendly job opportunities. The fair was made possible by Booz Allen Hamilton. 

The full program can be watched here.