Robert thank you so very much for those kind words of introduction, and ladies and gentlemen thank you for such a wonderful warm welcome. What a privilege it is to be with you today. You know I wanna thank Jenna Dorn, the Academy's CEO, for inviting me to take part in this great conference. Jenna is one of the finest professionals and public servants that I've had the honor to work with, and you are truly blessed to have her dynamic and passionate leadership.
Thank you Jenna for all you doing on behalf of the dedicated men and women gathered here today who serve on the front lines of health and medicine in communities across the nation, and I commend you for the focus you and AAPA have brought to the veterans and caregiving callers. I was so pleased to see this team represented throughout the conference agenda and to learn that AAPA invited military and veteran caregivers to serve as panelists. And let me congratulate my good friend Earl Morris. Ladies and gentleman, you certainly know how to pick a winner.
Selfless service and commitment to community have been the hallmark of Earl's work in supporting veterans travel to Washington D.C. to visit their World War II memorial. I happen to know how important that memorial is to so many across the country because my own husband Bob Dole, a World War II veteran himself, likes to spend most Saturday mornings at the memorial reading Honor Flight participants. This has been going on for years, and I am right there with them.
And of course my sincere thanks to all love you, for the critical role you play is important providers have cared for your communities and the families within them. Something you chose to do, perhaps something you were born to do. Do you remember being asked the famous childhood question, what do you wanna be when you grow up? When I think back to my own childhood, I certainly could not have predicted the wonderful opportunities my life has afforded me, but I can remember thinking that service to my country and to my community was important. I bet the same could be said about each of you. I suspect if you think hard enough, you can trace your role now as a provider of care back to instincts you hand as a child.
Caregiving is indeed a gift, a gift you're all about every single day in the care you provide to loved ones at home and those in need at your practice. For these reasons and many more I salute you for the critical caregiver role you play on the front lines of your communities.
Now ladies and gentleman, I want to focus this morning on the unique type of caregiver. I urgently need your help to support the hundreds of thousands of individuals across America who tend to our wounded warriors. Sometimes for decades these are the wives and husbands, mothers, fathers and siblings who did not have a choice in their caregiving path. Instead they accepted their caregiving roles with the same honor and duty that inspired their loved ones to defend our country. It is the hidden heroes that I am proud to represent today, and it is the urgent need to support them effectively that inspired me to establish Caring for Military Families, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.
Since the tragedy that struck our nation on Sept. 11th 2001, nearly two and a half million men and women have volunteered to serve our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result of this longest period of war in our history, over 60,000 troops have been physically wounded and almost seven hundred and twenty-five thousand more have experienced a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder severe depression. These growing emotional wounds of war in addition to the severe debilitating physical ones have placed a huge challenge on military family caregivers who were not trained nor expecting to inherent what is in most cases a full-time caregiving role.
While the needs of our wounded warriors have rightly received significant inquiry, national policy solutions and much private philanthropy, the needs of their caregivers remain largely overlooked and unknown. Of note to you is the fact that some 70 percent of the veteran population accesses civilian healthcare providers at some point during their care continuum. And the percent of family members and military caregivers who see a civilian healthcare provider is likely higher than that. This means that even if you are not a PA in the military or you do not work in the Veterans Administration, you need to be prepared to treat this population and to prevent health disparities among both veterans and their families.
Three years ago my husband bob was hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for what would become an almost year-long stay, as I became a regular around Walter Reed and a caregiver myself amid dozens of wounded warriors and their caregivers.
One of them was the Stewart family. Mrs. Stewart was sitting at the bedside of her only son, C.J., who had been injured in Kandahar, Afghanistan. She had taped verses of Scripture sent daily from her husband in Mississippi to the walls at CJ's small hospital room for inspiration and encouragement. Mrs. Stewart explained that a rocket-propelled grenade had struck the area where her son was standing. It crushed bones, tendons and nerves in the young man's right arm. Forty operations later, 40, titanium rods had replaced bones and functioning nerves from both legs and replaced damaged ones. C.J. had come through the ravages of war with physical scars, but his sense of service before self, I can assure you, was unscathed. I met countless others like C.J. and families like C.J.'s at Walter Reed who are quietly, selflessly supporting the Warriors in their recovery.
But I learned how hard it is for them to negotiate and coordinate diverse healthcare systems because of their loved ones multiple physical wounds and illnesses. As PAs you know the complex challenges of care coordination at a very high level, but let me remind you I'm talking about individuals who usually don't have your health care for dental or anything close, and they're very young many of them.
I heard about the difficulties due to bureaucratic obstacles they face, just trying to figure out what their soldier's eligibility would be for services and benefits.
I learned that caregivers, again many quite young, are handling the family's legal and financial matter. They're providing support and stability, shielding their wounded warriors from emotional triggers on an almost daily basis. They are administering medications and providing for daily activities of living, like bathing dressing and feeding, and many of them while raising children.
The selfless caregivers are saving our country millions of dollars in healthcare costs, ladies and gentleman, and we as a nation must do a far better job of supporting them. That urgent need drives the mission of my foundation each and every day, each and every day.
What exactly did caregivers say they need by way up support? How might we actively identify such caregivers in our communities? What services exist to support them, and are those services affective? These are just some of the questions we're seeking to address at the Elizabeth Dole foundation to commissioning the first comprehensive evidence-based research on the specific needs of military and veteran are givers I've chosen RAND Corporation to provide this critical research. I am delighted that Terry to nearly an
Who led the formulation up a well-known study, "Invisible Wounds of War," which put TV on PTSD on the national policy table is heading math Foundation's research as you know Terry will be following me to present findings this morning from the first phase at work and to describe the longer critical second phase leading to concrete actionable recommendations for the public, private and non-profit sectors pointing us toward a national strategy affected support. So to you, America's PA's, I last say honestly we don't have a moment to waste. Based on my 40 years as a public servant I know that major breakthroughs occurred through innovation leveraging existing resources, breaking down silos encouraging collaboration and shining a light on success and know you'll join me because this approach is precisely what PA's do every day.
To state it clearly, the mission of my foundation is to raise awareness nationally as applied to these hidden heroes and to raise the resources necessary to help lift up affective evidence-based programs and services to strengthen support for caregivers at this very critical time. That means we urgently need your help as providers practicing in every medical setting and in every specialty.
You are on the front lines of supporting these wounded warriors and their families. No one else is as uniquely suited to support them because you are compassionate. You will take time with patients and families. Your generalists training in medicine allows you to see the whole patient and the caregivers who support them. You're not afraid to ask questions. We know that it often takes tough questions, doesn't it, to get caregivers to tell their stories and chance for help, and you can serve as a key hub have diverse and complex medical care bringing the whole team together for the best outcomes the very best outcomes.
As PA's help caregivers, let me call on you to be change agents for those who protected our freedom and their caregivers. When it comes to caring for members of the military and their families, my dream would be that every PA would feel comfortable interacting with military patients and confident in the clinical information to get them the care that they need. And I know you can do this; you're doing it every day. Take to heart the fact that it will often fall on you to discover a military connection at the point of care, and it will fall on you to connect the dots of on how those visible and invisible wounds affect your patient's health.
Fortunately for you and for the caregivers I represent, AAPA is a key resource for tools to assist you in caring for military members, veterans and their families. And if I may ask, please share the story of the caregivers' enormous challenges and needs with your community. Sign up on our website to get involved, or make a gift to support caregivers at dolemilitaryfamilies.org, and please like us -on Facebook- so that we can continue to raise awareness across the country on the needs a military and veteran caregivers.
Simply go to Facebook and search for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Wounded Warrior caregivers, these hidden heroes, have nobly earned and deeply deserve our gratitude for their sacrifice to borrow President Lincoln's words, "upon the altar of freedom." May God bless each and every one of you, and may God bless this great land of the free America. Thank you so very much.
Speech from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x9gdAsKDOk.