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Former senators unite to support military veterans and caregivers

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation was launched after a  meeting with veterans at the National World War II Memorial to promote awareness and assistance for these injured service members.
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation was launched after a meeting with veterans at the National World War II Memorial to promote awareness and assistance for these injured service members.Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

More than 60,000 Americans have been wounded over the past decade while fighting in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands more have suffered dramatic emotional and spiritual woulds that continue to haunt them long after they have returned from battle. While the federal government provides some assistance to these individuals, the need is greater than the available resources at the moment. But, former senators Robert “Bob” Dole and Elizabeth Dole are doing something about it.

Elizabeth Dole spoke with Reader's Digest about the newest foundation she and her husband, the former presidential candidate and long-time U.S. Senator from Kansas, founded to help those needy veterans. The idea for the Caring For Military Families: The Elizabeth Dole Foundation came from meetings the couple had while visiting injured service members at Walter Reed military hospital in 2010.

The Rand Corporation reports that more than 2.5 million American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have been deployed since the 9/11 attacks. Approximately 725,000 of them have experienced traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or some form of depression. Estimates reveal that nearly a million caregivers are assisting these victims in overcoming these injuries.

“Thanks to advances in battlefield medicine, more soldiers than ever are surviving multiple injuries, but they often have to be treated by different sets of doctors—a neurologist for symptoms from a head wound, a psychiatrist to address PTSD, a surgeon to repair nerves in a damaged limb,” Dole said. “It's overwhelming.”

The foundation works as advocates for the caregivers and through a fellowship program, has dispatched representatives across the country to promote awareness, defend federal funding and programs for the wounded and to support the victims in as broad a manner as possible while they return to civilian life with new physical and emotional disabilities.

Finding work, meeting financial responsibilities and reincorporating into the family unit all all challenges that a wounded veteran must face while recovering from sometimes very serious and debilitating wounds. The foundation is working with corporate sponsors around the country to make more opportunities available for the veteran and the caregiver.

Bob Dole was seriously wounded during World War II and spent months in rehabilitative care. Elizabeth Dole said he was often motivated by Frank Sinatra's classic song 'You'll Never Walk Alone.”

Her commitment is to bring that belief to the present day struggle to assist all those who have given so much for their country, and Elizabeth Dole is committed to insuring that today's veteran and their families will have support every step of the way.