Local Military Caregivers Celebrated by Elizabeth Dole Foundation, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Philips, U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan

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National and local leaders bring nationwide movement empowering America's 5.5 million hidden heroes to the Puget Sound Region

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When leaders like Senator Murray take a stand and communities like Seattle join our network of more than 110 Hidden Heroes Cities across the nation, we are able to support military and Veteran caregivers where they need it most: in their hometowns.

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, and leaders from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Philips are in Seattle today to celebrate the Puget Sound region's hidden heroes - the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who provide voluntary care for wounded, ill, or injured service members and Veterans.

"All of our nation's 5.5 million hidden heroes, who selflessly care for Veterans of all eras, deserve our unwavering support," said Steve Schwab, Executive Director of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. "When leaders like Senator Murray take a stand and communities like Seattle join our network of more than 110 Hidden Heroes Cities across the nation, we are able to support military and Veteran caregivers where they need it most: in their hometowns."

Research highlights that military caregivers face tremendous physical, emotional, and family strain, and far too often face these challenges alone. Many caregivers are the sole breadwinner for their families, and 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. Supporting military caregivers is critically important as a RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Foundation pointed out, stating that a well-supported caregiver is the single most important factor in a Veteran's recovery.

The City of Seattle and U.S. Senator Patty Murray are giving a voice to the region's military and Veteran caregivers by developing programs focused on raising public awareness of the challenges they face, streamlining support services, and championing meaningful legislation to integrate the caregiver into all aspects of their Veteran's care and support the caregiver along his or her journey.

"Military caregivers don't necessarily wear a uniform or go overseas but they sacrifice for our country nonetheless, and they deserve our support," said Senator Murray. "That's why I'm proud to champion legislation to strengthen and expand support for military and Veteran caregivers of all eras."

Local caregiver Tiffany Smiley was working as an urgent care nurse when she received the call that her husband Scotty, an Army Infantry Platoon Leader deployed to Iraq, was severely injured. She left her nursing job and became her husband's full-time caregiver, overcoming many challenges to help him become the first blind Active Duty Officer in the military before his retirement. Her story of courage, struggle, and triumph is one of many that has inspired this joint nationwide effort to empower caregivers.

"As the mayor of a Hidden Heroes City, I'm proud to salute and support caregivers like Tiffany and all of those who care for veterans here in Seattle," said Mayor Durkan. "Our hometown hidden heroes enrich not only the lives of the Veterans they care for, but our entire community. I want to express my deep gratitude for their service to our nation's wounded warriors."

The VA has also made supporting caregivers one of its top priorities at the local and federal level and has been a strong advocate for evidence-based interventions that support both the veteran and his or her caregiver, like the VA Caregiver Support Program and its community partners.

"Caregivers play an absolutely vital role in the health and wellbeing of Veterans, which is why the VA has built programs especially for this population," said Meg Kabat, National Director of the VA's Caregiver Support Program. "The VA Puget Sound Healthcare System has wonderful, dedicated staff, supporting caregivers of Veterans of all eras."

The Seattle celebration is possible thanks to the generosity of Philips, which has a strong local presence in Seattle. Philips has made innovation in the delivery of care a cornerstone of its mission and is working with leading health systems to create telehealth and product solutions that improve the patient and provider experience and extend patient care beyond the hospital and into the home, where it is needed most.

"Ensuring Veterans receive the right care when and where they need it most is absolutely critical," said Joe Robinson, Senior Vice President, Health Systems Solutions, Philips. "We're proud to be in Seattle with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the VA, to celebrate our nation's hidden heroes and address the long-term challenges caregivers face, so we can continue to make life better for Veterans and their families by organizing healthcare around the patient."

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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 the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' National Caregiver Support Program

VA currently offers many services specific to caregivers of Veterans of all eras. Contact your local VAMC Caregiver Support Coordinator or the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274 for information on these and other caregiver resources and services.

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips 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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Taylor Leaming

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