In August, President Trump outlined his military strategy for America’s 16 year-long conflict in Afghanistan, saying unequivocally that additional troops would deploy in the near future. He declined to say how many troops this would affect, or how long this effort would last.
The unanswered questions take an emotional and mental toll on both the soldier and their families.
Close to 2,400 of our service members have died since 2001, and more than 20,000 have been wounded. Almost an entire generation of military families has endured painful sacrifices since this war began.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the formation of the Veterans’ Family, Caregiver, and Survivor Federal Advisory Committee as part of VA Secretary David Shulkin’s commitment to supporting the nation’s veterans and those who care for them.
The new Committee will be chaired by former U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole, a noted advocate for military caregivers, and the founder of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the Hidden Heroes Campaign, both of which regularly collaborate with the VA on issues related to military caregiving.
“The VA is committed to the delivery of highest quality care and support to our Veterans, and recognizes the essential role their families, caregivers, and survivors have every day,” Secretary Shulkin said in a news release. “Senator Dole is an accomplished and experienced advocate for veterans’ caregivers I am honored that she will chair this landmark Committee.”
The Committee will advise the Secretary, through the Chief Veterans Experience Officer, on matters related to veterans’ families, caregivers, and survivors across all generations, relationships, and veteran status, with a focus on gaining a better understanding of the use of VA care and benefits services, and factors that influence access, quality, and accountability for those services, according to the release. A key element of the committee’s work will be to engage veteran family members, research experts, and family service providers as a way to better understand their needs and identify ways VA can continue to support them in the best possible way.
“Military families, caregivers, and survivors are truly our nation’s hidden heroes, and make great sacrifices each and every day on behalf of their loved ones, so we must do more to support them on their journey. VA, under Secretary Shulkin’s leadership, is stepping up at a time of tremendous need and opportunity,” said Senator Dole, herself a caregiver to her husband, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole, a World War II veteran injured in combat. “I am proud to serve as chair of such a critical committee, alongside some of the nation’s top voices on the issues that affect veterans and their families.”