Elizabeth Dole Foundation
Hidden Heroes
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Adrienne Hazard

My Story

When Adrienne’s mother died three months after being diagnosed with cancer, she was thrown into the role of taking over as her father Dennis’s full-time caregiver. Adrienne sold her house and moved her and her toddler son Kaleb back into her childhood home to care for her U.S. Marine Corps veteran father.   

Dennis started dialysis due to kidney failure 10 years ago and has been diagnosed with diabetes, ocular complications, and respiratory and heart complications. Adrienne believes that her father’s illnesses are a direct correlation to toxic exposure. Currently, Adrienne is working to have her father added to the Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuit and PACT Act. Because many of these benefits and application processes are online, it’s up to her to find the information and apply. 

Adrienne and her son Kaleb live with Dennis to ensure he is cared for daily. Even at 2 years old, Kaleb is already a hidden helper, serving Dennis’s emotional needs through hugs and love, or helping to grab his ‘grampy’s’ oxygen mask. Adrienne also sees that having Dennis watch Kaleb while she is doing yard work or performing her other caregiving duties, gives him joy and independence. Dennis prefers to stay close to home and is uncomfortable with the visibility of his health challenges which has contributed to Adrienne feeling isolated at times.  

Adrienne is excited for the opportunity to lead projects to grow the caregiver network in her community and expand her knowledge to help other caregivers who know even less than she did when she became a caregiver. With Native American heritage, she has seen how people in the Native American community engage with the VA differently, and sometimes with worse outcomes, so she would like to bring greater understanding between the health system and Native people.