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What Does it Mean to be a Dole Caregiver Fellow?

What Does it Mean to be a Dole Caregiver Fellow?
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We’re honored to share just a few of the ways military and veteran caregivers across America believe they have grown through the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Dole Caregiver Fellow program.

We know our nation’s hidden heroes are the heart and soul of the military family unit. These individuals have different backgrounds but share similar stories of struggle and resilience. Each has benefitted uniquely from the opportunity to be a voice for the 5.5 million fellow caregivers and felt compelled to share their experiences to inspire classes to come.

As the Foundation recruits our newest class of Dole Caregiver Fellows, we asked members of the community to share how the Fellowship has impacted their life as a military and veteran caregiver.

By sharing the sentiments of those who have joined the Foundation’s family, we hope you are inspired to come forward, share your story, and bring vital attention to the challenges and triumphs military and veteran caregivers face. 


Geri Lynn Maples 

“First and foremost, I am grateful for this opportunity to serve on behalf of my fellow caregivers. It has been an honor and privilege to advocate on their behalf. Throughout the past two years, I have had the privilege to meet, engage with, and raise awareness of our stories.

Even writing this brings a flood of powerful emotions to the surface. In the beginning, I set goals for my Fellowship and was able to meet them because of the amazing community and state partners.

I am grateful to be a part of the EDF Family. I have gained 200 plus additional family members. I know that I am not alone on this journey and that gives me peace of mind.”  


Precious Goodson 

“Thank you for developing the Dole Caregiver Fellows program. I am grateful to have been selected for the 2015 class. I have grown tremendously both personally and professionally, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside the amazing caregivers across America. I am grateful for the life-changing experiences that I have had to raise awareness about what the caregiver population needs, as well as the critical issues that we face.” 


April Mulvey 

“Before I became an Elizabeth Dole Foundation Fellow, I felt like a fish fighting the current. Since becoming a Fellow, I feel I have found the purpose God has intended for me, and my life has meaning and direction. I have found a “hidden” family I know will cheer me on when I feel like giving up. I am honored to be a part of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and its family for, ‘once a Fellow, always a Fellow,’ has never been truer.” 


Melinda Smith-Pace  

“Being a Dole Fellow gave me a family and the confidence to go back to pursuing my dreams too. It gave me the strength and courage to help my veteran work to become a contributing happy member of society. Lastly, it helped me focus, giving me tools to not only become a leader and help other caregivers in our state find resources, but to work toward changing Iowa to become a place where veterans and their caregivers thrive.” 


Anne Adkinson

“Being a Dole Caregiver Fellow has been life changing! It’s been an opportunity to voice the most difficult pain points of my caregiving journey and not only be heard and validated, but those painful experiences end up helping enact change for the millions of other caregivers out there who have no voice. I get to make lemonade out of lemons. I can’t believe I get to do something so cool with such a difficult situation!”

I’m no longer alone or misunderstood and finally have a support system for the first time in 10 years. I don’t have to try to explain every detail of our situation to EDF staff or other Fellows…they already just get it and meet me where I’m at. I’ve learned so much since becoming a Fellow and it’s given me a purpose outside of caring for my husband 24/7.”

I’m no longer hidden and alone. The Fellowship has taught me how to come out of the shadows and shine a light on all of us. I’ve grown in so many areas and learned so much. I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity.” 


Mary Hahn Ward  

“Becoming a Fellow is amazing. It has given me the opportunity to advocate for caregivers with far more reach and support than I had on my own. Most importantly, it has expanded my circle of friends in unquantifiable ways. I am no longer alone on this caregiver journey.” 


Do you care for a wounded, ill, or injured service member or veteran? If so, please apply to be an Elizabeth Dole Foundation Caregiver Fellow. Applications for the Class of 2022 are now closed. Stay tuned as we announced our Class of 2022, Dole Caregiver Fellows this spring!