The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Philips, City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Join Forces to Empower Military Caregivers

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Government, nonprofit, community, and corporate leaders committing to develop model solutions for military caregivers

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“Here in Pittsburgh, we are proud to support such a strong and vibrant military caregiving community, and hope it becomes a model for the rest of the nation.”

Senator Elizabeth Dole and Dr. David J. Shulkin, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), are in Pittsburgh today to celebrate our nation’s 5.5 million hidden heroes – the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who provide voluntary care for wounded, ill, or injured veterans. The City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County’s leadership are also being recognized as two model communities in the Hidden Heroes Cities program. Senator Dole and Secretary Shulkin will be joined by Mayor William Peduto, and military caregivers from across Pittsburgh, to address how communities can better serve caregivers through local services and support. Philips, which has a local presence in Pittsburgh, is sponsoring the event and will join in the program.

“America cannot fulfill her sacred vow to serve those who have borne the battle if steadfast support is not given to our hidden heroes,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole, founder of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “With the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and our 103 additional Hidden Heroes Cities answering the call, we are making great strides in supporting our caregivers where they need it most, in their hometowns.”

Military caregivers face great physical, emotional, and family strain, and far too often face these challenges alone. Many caregivers are the sole breadwinner for their families, and most are balancing the responsibilities of managing the household, childcare, legal needs, and medical care. This results in higher rates of anxiety and depression, and deteriorating health for the caregivers themselves. The Hidden Heroes Cities Program, along with its partners, are galvanizing communities across the country to address this growing national crisis.

At the federal level, the VA has made supporting caregivers one of its top priorities, and has been a strong advocate for evidence-based interventions that support both the veteran and his or her caregiver.

“VA is committed to supporting military caregivers at every stage of their journey. Through our Caregiver Support Program, we work directly with thousands of caregivers every day, providing them with the resources and support they need to overcome the daily challenges they face. We are proud to be working in partnership with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to ensure that veterans and their caregivers are supported beyond the walls of a VA Medical Center,” said Dr. David J. Shulkin, Secretary of the VA. “Here in Pittsburgh, we are proud to support such a strong and vibrant caregiving community, and hope it becomes a model for the rest of the nation.”

The City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are answering the call to support military caregivers by developing programs focused on raising public awareness, streamlining support services, and giving a voice to the region’s hidden heroes. This year, the city will launch an innovative storytelling campaign that will ensure the experiences of caregivers are well understood and well-documented.

“As the mayor of a Hidden Heroes City, I’m proud to stand beside Secretary Shulkin, Senator Dole, and Joe Robinson to salute and support our all of those who care for veterans here in Pittsburgh,” said Mayor William Peduto. “Today, we recognize our city’s military caregivers - our hometown hidden heroes - and offer them heartfelt thanks for their service to the community, and our nation’s wounded warriors.”

Through the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Campaign, military caregivers from coast to coast are empowered to stand up, raise their hands, and share their stories. It is vitally important that the experiences of caregivers be well understood and well-documented, so resources and services can be aligned to their needs. As a RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Foundation pointed out, a well-supported military caregiver is the single most important factor in a veteran’s recovery.

“As a Pittsburgh-area military caregiver who has struggled to find the support I need, I’m incredibly inspired to see such powerful forces coming together to rally my community,” said Theresia Ditto, the wife of Michael Ditto, a Pittsburgh-area Marine Corps Veteran who was wounded during multiple combat deployments. “For far too long, caregivers like me have served in the shadows, and today I am proud to raise my hand, call myself a caregiver, and ask other caregivers to share their stories.”

With a strong local presence, including a long-standing collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, Philips has made innovation in the delivery of care a cornerstone of its mission. Philips is working with leading health systems to create solutions in areas such as telehealth, helping to improve the patient and provider experience, as well as extending patient care beyond the hospital and into the home, where it is needed most.

“Our goal at Philips is to partner with results-oriented organizations like the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, VA, City of Pittsburgh, and Allegheny County, who are on the ground delivering critical services to our nation’s hidden heroes,” said Joe Robinson, Senior Vice President, Health Systems Solutions, Philips. “We want to work together and develop innovative solutions that can address the long-term challenges caregivers face, making life better for our Veterans and their families.”

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About Elizabeth Dole Foundation
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers – the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill or injured veterans at home. Founded by Senator Elizabeth Dole in 2012, the Foundation adopts a comprehensive approach in its support and advocacy, working with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit, and faith communities to recognize military caregivers’ service and promote their well-being. Learn more about the Elizabeth Dole Foundation at http://www.elizabethdolefoundation.org.

The Hidden Heroes Campaign, an initiative of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, brings vital attention to the untold stories of military caregivers and provides a safe, secure place where caregivers can meet and access carefully vetted resources at HiddenHeroes.org. Another aspect of the Campaign, Hidden Heroes Cities, is an effort to galvanize local leaders across America to identify military caregivers in their communities and the local resources to support them. To date, 105 cities from San Antonio to New York, from Washington, DC to San Diego have signed on. Learn more about Hidden Heroes at http://www.hiddenheroes.org.

About Royal Philips
Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people's health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips' health technology portfolio generated 2016 sales of EUR 17.4 billion and employs approximately 71,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at http://www.philips.com/newscenter.

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