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

Kids, Youth, and Families

Together, we must recognize our nation’s hidden helpers who are providing an unseen, unrecognized, and unsupported national service.

Generations of children and youth have witnessed first-hand the physical and emotional effects of war. In their childhood and adolescence, they have experienced more stress, anxiety, responsibility, and complex feelings than most of us will in our lifetimes. They have been forced to grow up fast. And while these hidden helpers are proud to be a part of their family and of their loved one’s service, the load they carry is heavier than they should have to bear.

Join our efforts to uplift the voices of military caregiver kids, better understand the unique challenges they face, and enhance the support services available to them.

Our Mission

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation brings vital attention to the untold stories of military caregivers who care for a wounded, ill, or injured service member or veteran, seeking to provide solutions for the nation’s hidden heroes, many of whom raise hidden helpers.

Being a caregiver kid can be tough, but we learn ways to help. My job is to give love and to bring light to my dad’s day. I want every other caregiver kid out there to know, that there are millions of us. You are not alone.

Gabby, Connecticut

There are others of us out there who also have a mom or dad who is sick or injured. It can be hard because we have to cancel things a lot, and there are times my dad cannot come with us on family vacations or attend special occasions because he is sick. I imagine there are other military caregiver kids going through the same thing.

Abigail, South Carolina

It can be difficult at times because I have to help take on the responsibilities of my parents along with my own, but it’s rewarding because I’m able to help in any way I’m capable of.

Noah, California

Our History

A 2017 RAND Study commissioned by EDF found that there have been no published studies examining the impact of caregiving on military children. In response to these findings, over the last four years, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation has been regularly convening leaders in the military and veteran space for dialogues around the needs of military children in caregiving households.

One outcome of these meetings has been EDF’s launch of a first-of-its-kind, groundbreaking research study focused on military caregiver children and adolescents, Hidden Helpers at the Frontlines of Caregiving: Supporting the Healthy Development of Children from Military and Veteran Caregiving Homes. The findings will help us understand the impact caregiving has on the lives of these children and how we can most effectively support them. This research, funded by Wounded Warrior Project, will be our North Star as we work alongside our Coalition members to address the unmet needs and challenges of military caregiver kids and youth.

Sign Up for a Hidden Helpers Badge Buddy

There are 2.3 million children of injured, ill, and wounded service members and veterans who play a crucial role in caring for their loved ones. We’ve introduced badge buddies and resources to help healthcare professionals identify the unique challenges military caregiver kids and their families face, and address ways clinicians can support them in their roles.

Guides and Resources for Hidden Helpers

Download the Quick Guides here

English

Espanol

Download the Quick Guides here

English

Espanol

Download the Quick Guides here

English

Espanol

Download the Quick Guides here

English

Espanol

Download the Quick Guides here

English

Espanol

Download the Quick Guides here

English

Espanol

Hidden Helpers Coalition

The Foundation has teamed up with Wounded Warrior Project ® (WWP) and the Biden Administration’s Joining Forces to build the Hidden Helpers Coalition, a key element of the initiative, which will call on partners to pledge to take action that fills the gaps in support and services for military caregiver kids and youth. More than 60 organizations in the military and veteran arena have pledged their support to uplift the voices of America’s youngest heroes.

Upon reviewing the hidden helpers research findings, the Coalition members have committed to over 40 new programs and initiatives to better support the needs of military and veteran families. This list of commitments, which can be found here, will continue to grow. 

If your organization is interested in joining the Coalition, please contact [email protected] 

Hidden Helpers Coalition Members

Hidden Helper Spotlight

Noah’s mom has cared for his dad for as long as he can remember. Noah’s dad is a veteran of the Marine Corps who struggles with post-traumatic stress and a traumatic brain injury from his time in Iraq. He grew up learning how to help his dad John during traumatic seizures, so his mom Nikki didn’t have handle caregiving alone. He is one of many of the nation’s hidden helpers for which the Hidden Helpers initiative and its Coalition members will make sure that the challenges and hardships of caregivers kids are not overlooked.

 

If you need financial assistance this holiday season, click here to learn more about our Hope for the Holidays program and apply by December 11.