Elizabeth Dole, Ryan Phillippe urge action on military caregivers
Former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and actor Ryan Phillippe visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday to testify in the first major Senate hearing on veteran caregiver issues in several years.
“I’ve heard directly from the military caregivers who are in need,” Phillippe told The Hill. “And those experiences stick with you. They stay with your heart. And I think bringing attention to these issues is huge.”
The star of USA Network’s “Shooter” became a spokesman for Dole’s foundation last fall. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is a research and advocacy organization created to support the 5.5 million military caregivers in the U.S. Many of these caregivers are supporting veterans with ongoing health issues related to their military service.
The foundation commissioned a report from the Rand Corporation, also released on Wednesday, which provides a blueprint for necessary research and support for caregivers.
“Rand pointed out the number of areas where there were gaps in services, and the current legislation fills those gaps,” Dole told The Hill. “Now we need the research to get ready for the future.”
Dole’s foundation highlights what it calls the “hidden heroes” who support veterans and members of the military. Dole and Phillippe are pushing the passage of the Military Caregiver Services Improvement Act and the RAISE Family Caregivers Act to better serve caregivers.
”Military caregivers typically do not receive awards and admiration that America’s veterans do,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the chairwoman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. “If we are going to foster a nation that sponsors hidden heroes, it is essential that both pieces of legislation are passed.”
In her testimony, Dole also slammed the fact that only veterans who served after 9/11 are eligible for benefits like stipends and mental healthcare.
“Caregivers from pre-9/11 have been providing services for years and have had no acknowledgement,” Dole said. “The illnesses, injuries and wounds are compounded as they wound. Not only war-related wounds. For example, the advent of ALS, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain. Totally unacknowledged with very little support.”
Phillippe highlighted his visit to the Hill in an Instagram post. “I gotta testify,” he wrote before urging the senators to to provide “military caregivers purposeful action and lifelong support.”
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