By Debbie Gregory.
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation hosted the 2015 Hidden Heroes Coalition Summit: Progress and Promise at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. The event featured a special video-taped message from Tom Hanks, announcing his leadership of “Hidden Heroes.” This is a national awareness campaign to call attention to the service provided by loved ones caring for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans.
These caregivers “live all across America, and in all of our communities,” Hanks said
First Lady Michelle Obama also pledged her support. While our nation has made great progress on behalf of military and veteran caregivers, more needs to be done to provide these “hidden heroes” with the support they need and deserve.
With Hanks’ leadership, the campaign will raise public awareness of the service, needs and value of caregivers who tend to these injured troops and veterans.
“They never had any real preparation for the job as caregiver, but they became so in an instant with little warning other than a phone call or email that changed their lives and defined the great challenges that had been thrust upon them,” Hanks said.
The awareness campaign was one of several announced initiatives that is looking to strengthen military and veteran caregivers, who often feel frustrated and overwhelmed with their multiple responsibilities.
“It’s truly inspiring to see America come together around the loved ones of our wounded, ill and injured warriors in the ways they need and deserve,” said Elizabeth Dole, whose namesake foundation launched the National Coalition for Military Caregivers a year ago.
The most powerful moments of the event came from the caregivers themselves. Nine of them spoke from the stage, sharing their personal stories. More than 60 others were in attendance, representing the 5.5 million loved ones caring for America’s wounded warriors.
“This is America’s new normal,” Dole said. “For too long, they’ve traveled this road alone.”
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Military Connection: Hanks Will Head ‘Hidden Heroes’ Campaign: by Debbie Gregory