Sen. Elizabeth Dole

Remember wounded veterans’ caregivers

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By Sen. Elizabeth Dole, WashingtonTimes.com

During a recent news conference, President Trump reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to helping our nation’s veterans, many of whom face steep mental and physical challenges after returning from their time on the battlefield. As the longest war in U.S. history continues, so too does the responsibility to care for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.

While access to care has improved at the Department of Veterans Affairs over the last few years, the new administration must recognize that the care for our veterans does not fall entirely on the shoulders of the government.

Not by a long shot.

In actuality, many family members or friends step into the role of a military caregiver without sufficient assistance and support from government programs. These spouses, mothers, dads, children, siblings or friends are typically taking on the role of caregiver for the first time — with little or no training — while managing complex injuries and illnesses over a lifetime of care.

 

Bob Dole, World War II

Bob Dole, World War II

When my husband Bob Dole was admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for an extended period of time, my eyes were opened to the tremendous challenges facing the loved ones caring for our wounded veterans. Indeed, all the science and experience points to an undeniable societal crisis that demands a national response.

Though military caregivers are not always visible, they are all around us: According to a first-ever assessment of this community by the RAND Corp., there are more than 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers in the United States. As an unpaid work force, these “hidden heroes” are providing nearly $14 billion in services annually to care for those who have returned from war. These are costs that would otherwise be borne by society.

By Sen. Elizabeth Dole, WashingtonTimes.com