More than 20 defense communities have committed to expanding local resources for military caregivers in conjunction with the Hidden Heroes Cities program, one of the initiatives introduced as part of the newly launched Hidden Heroes campaign.
San Diego became the first Hidden Heroes City this summer, passing a resolution and forming a steering committee made up of public and private organizations to assess and address the unmet needs of those caring for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. Since then, 53 cities have joined San Diego in pledging to become military caregiver-friendly cities. Some cities are partnering with their county or a neighboring city to create region-wide initiatives, according to a fact sheet.
One goal of the initiative is for local leaders to identify military caregivers residing in their cities.
On Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation officially launched the Hidden Heroes campaign, a multifaceted effort to highlight the tremendous challenges and long-term needs of the nation’s military caregivers and to inspire Americans to take action.
“If we want to be a nation that truly cares for those who have borne the battle, we must also be a nation that cares for our caregivers,” said Tom Hanks, the campaign’s chairman, as he called on elected leaders, corporations, nonprofits and individuals to pitch in.
Family members or friends step into the role of the military caregiver for the first time with little or no training, managing and balancing multiple injuries and illnesses over a lifetime of care, often in isolation and without a support system. Hidden Heroes is dedicated to bringing public attention to this crisis and motivating civic engagement to better connect military caregivers to resources and support, according to a press release.