According to a RAND military caregivers study, about 30 percent of post-9/11 caregivers spend 40 or more hours per week providing care. Steve Schwab, Executive Director of The Elizabeth Dole Foundation shares the importance of recognizing and supporting these hidden heroes all across the country. Click here for part 1 of Hidden Heroes.
Interview recorded Oct 11, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Robert Traynham: If I’m a caregiver, or I know of a caregiver that’s watching this program now, how could I, first of all how do I recognize the signs, one, and then two, how can I get help?
Steve Schwab: You can go to hiddenheroes.org. Many caregivers need to see the stories of others to understand …
Robert Traynham: To relate.
Steve Schwab: … to relate their own situation, so when they come to that site, they’re confronted immediately with hundreds of stories. Many of them find themselves immediately, or it takes a little [00:03:30] while. Then what we do is we connect them immediately to peers. That’s where the magic happens. Once they recognize that they’re not alone, it changes their life.
They might meet someone down the street and around the corner, and they had no idea that they were there. Once we make that peer connection, they have someone they can rely on, they can ask for advice, and help, and support, and that’s when it really changes their life.
Robert Traynham: For the loved one that’s watching the program, Steve, or concerned, and they’ve said, “I’ve tried to give this hidden hero some help. I’ve tried to [00:04:00] reach out and say I think you might need to speak to someone,” and they’re still reluctant, what is that person supposed to do?
Steve Schwab: I think the best thing they can do is recognize that it takes a little while. Be gentle in the ways that they approach, but stick with it. They’ll hit a pit, and when they do, they’re going to need help.
We find that the most timely circumstance to refer them is when they’re in that dire situation, when they’re looking for resources and [00:04:30] support, put our website in front of them, put a community organization website in front of them.
They’ll go, and once they find these stories, and recognize that there’s resources and support for them, hopefully, they’ll avail themselves of those resources.
Robert Traynham: We should mention that the founder of the foundation is Elizabeth Dole, who is the ultimate public servant, in my opinion. Former senator from North Carolina, former Department of Transportation Secretary, former Labor Secretary, former President of the American Red Cross, this list goes on, and on, and on.
Steve Schwab: It does.
Robert Traynham: Worked in the White House, and so forth. Why did she start this [00:05:00] organization?
Steve Schwab: You know, she does this as a volunteer full-time, and it’s a personal story for her. She cares for her husband, Bob Dole, a World War II veteran. She lives the life of a military caregiver. His medical conditions have been up and down over the course of the last 15 years. In fact, he just had some dire circumstances with his health.
She’s the one managing all the care around him. She spent time in the hospitals, and came to know this population, [00:05:30] and recognize that there was nothing being done, literally nothing being done, for these folks, when they were in the hospital. Then when they get home, they’re by themselves. She was inspired to do something about it.
Robert Traynham: In the few moments that we have left, Steve, where else can folks get more information. Will you mention the website again, please?
Steve Schwab: It’s hiddenheroes.org. We’re also challenging cities across the country to get involved. We have 110 cities that have become Hidden Heroes Cities. Those communities are helping us to get caregivers to raise their hands.
[00:06:00] They’re making assessments on the kinds of services and support that are available for caregivers, and so I’d love for any mayor or citizen that’s watching in a city to come to our website and see if your city is onboard. If they’re not, challenge them to do so.
Robert Traynham: Last question, is any city too small?
Steve Schwab: No, we’ve got large ones and small ones. Some that you know, and some that you wouldn’t.
Robert Traynham: Steve Schwab, the Executive Director of Elizabeth Dole Foundation, thank you so much for joining us.
Steve Schwab: Thanks for having me.
Robert Traynham: Thank you for joining us as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community, and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I’m Robert Traynham.
[00:06:30] Five and a half million Americans care for injured or ill service members and veterans. These hidden heroes provide $14 billion worth of uncompensated care each year. Hello everyone, and welcome to Comcast Newsmakers, I’m Robert Traynham. With me is Steve Schwab. He’s the Executive Director of The Elizabeth Dole Foundation.