Carper, Nemours Children’s Health, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Co-hosted Event Recognizing Military-Connected Families  

Nemours Children’s Health, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and U.S. Senator Tom Carper, D-Del., today co-hosted an event at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware to elevate awareness of the unique needs of millions of military and veteran families. The event also highlighted the special contributions of “hidden helpers,” the children and teens living with a wounded, ill, or injured veteran or service member. 

The event featured remarks by leaders from Nemours and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Senator Carper, and panel discussions with representatives from the military, education, healthcare, early childhood space, and military and veteran caregivers.

Military caregivers, including Silvia Lopez of Dover, Del., shared how healthcare providers can better understand the realities of hidden helpers.

“It’s important to understand that this is a different life from typical households,” said Lopez, who along with her five children, cares for her veteran husband who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. “Hidden helpers are strong and knowledgeable, but they also have their challenges. It’s important for care providers to validate their feelings and offer support.”

The event amplified and announced new commitments to address the needs of military-connected families. For example, Nemours shared that the organization is adding a field to each patient’s electronic medical record to help providers identify children in military or veteran families during the registration process to better meet their needs. Also announced, the Children’s Hospital Association officially joined the Hidden Helpers Coalition and encouraged its member hospitals to join. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation remains committed to leading the Hidden Helpers Coalition, alongside Wounded Warrior Project, to uplift and support military and veteran caregiving children, teens, and families through research, advocacy, partnership, and resource development.

“Nemours Children’s is committed to creating the healthiest generations of children. By convening these critical conversations among the healthcare industry, policymakers, and military families, we are improving the lives of children and youth across the country,” said R. Lawrence Moss, MD, FACS, FAAP, President and CEO, Nemours Children’s Health. “We are honored to partner with Senator Tom Carper and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to make this event a reality. Together, we can substantively support providers in offering better care to the families who are defending our nation’s freedom.”

In addition, the discussion highlighted a new online training program for healthcare providers, a resource created so physicians and allied health professionals can better care for millions of children and teens living with a wounded, ill, or injured service member or veteran.  

The day featured: 

  • Remarks and insights from military-connected children and spouses 
    • A moderated conversation among policymakers to discuss their work to support military and veteran families 
    • A panel discussion on the opportunities in the early years and in the education sector to support military and veteran families 
    • A panel discussion on how leaders in the healthcare sector are committing to new collaborations in support of military-connected families 

“As 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, I understand the sacrifices our servicemembers, and their families, make to serve and protect our country,” said Senator Carper, the last serving Vietnam Veteran in the Senate. “One of the best ways we can honor their sacrifices is to ensure they have the support they need when they return home. That is why I’ve worked hard to increase access to VA healthcare, including supporting the passage of the largest expansion of health benefits through the PACT Act, protecting G.I. benefits, and passing legislation that helps provide mental health services to children across he country. By working together like we are today, we can all do our part to support our ‘hidden helpers.’”

“We are thankful to work with Senator Tom Carper and Nemours Children’s Health to bring attention to hidden helpers and the resources they need,” said Steve Schwab, CEO, Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “By working together, we will make an impact for these families and change the outcomes for our nation’s youngest military and veteran caregivers.”  

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation first brought attention to the crisis facing military and veteran caregiving children and teens, whom the Foundation calls America’s “hidden helpers,” for their overlooked role in supporting the care of wounded, ill, and injured veterans at home. In 2021, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation released a groundbreaking study by Mathematica that revealed the high levels of stress, burnout, fatigue, anxiety, and depression experienced by young people in caregiving families. The report revealed troubling data indicating much higher incidences of social isolation and trouble in school, and increased levels of anxiety and depression.