Watch Senator Elizabeth Dole: Sec. of Transportation and Labor, Pres. of American Red Cross, Founder Elizabeth Dole Foundation, receives Leo K. Thorsness Leadership Award

Watch Senator Elizabeth Dole: Sec. of Transportation and Labor, Pres. of American Red Cross, Founder Elizabeth Dole Foundation, receives Leo K. Thorsness Leadership Award

Introduce from the 2018 5th Symposium

Senator Elizabeth Dole

She receives the Leo K. Thorsness Leadership Award and

She gives an amazing Speech of her Vision of the Future!

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New Center dedicated to Veteran and Caregiver research named for Senator Elizabeth Dole

Washington, D.C. – September 7, 2018:  The Elizabeth Dole Foundation celebrated a milestone accomplishment for military and veteran caregivers today with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ announcement that the VA will fund the first National Center of Excellence for improving veteran and caregiver services. Senator Elizabeth Dole has called for the creation of such a Center since first unveiling the crisis facing veteran caregivers.

The Foundation applauds Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie and the VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) service for responding to the Senator’s call. The new center will be named for Senator Dole in recognition of her national leadership and advocacy on behalf of caregivers. The Elizabeth Dole Center of Excellence will expand the capacity of the VA to deliver innovative, data-driven, and integrated approaches to improve services for veterans and their caregivers.


“Improving the lives of veteran caregivers and their loved ones has been our Foundation’s mission from day one,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole. “After speaking extensively with veteran families and reviewing the findings of the 2014 and 2017 RAND studies we commissioned, we knew a Center such as this would be critical. I am humbled to be associated with such important work, and I can think of no greater honor. The Center will inform and help determine the future plans, progress, and care for our veterans and the hidden heroes who care for them. I extend my gratitude and personal appreciation to Secretary Wilkie and to VA Chief Veterans Experience Officer Dr. Lynda Davis who have been great champions  for this cause.”


The Elizabeth Dole Center of Excellence for Veteran and Caregiver Research is a result of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s support for a landmark RAND research blueprint for veterans and their caregivers, Senator Dole’s continued advocacy for the Center, and VA HSR&D’s 30+ year legacy in supporting state-of-the art healthcare research. The Center will serve as a virtual network of nationally-recognized VA investigators and their University affiliates, led by Dr. Luci Leykum, MD of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.


Additional collaborating sites (and leaders) include the Miami VA Health Care System (Stuti Dang, MD), VA Salt Lake City Health Care System (Mary Jo Pugh, PhD, RN), and the Palo Alto VA Healthcare System (Ranak Trivedi, PhD). Veteran caregivers will be involved in the design and implementation of the Center, and their feedback will be woven into the innovative models of care, which will help veterans, caregivers, VA/non-VA providers, and leadership in making informed decisions.


“Senator Dole has been a tireless advocate for establishing this center, persistently making the case that our nation must better understand and respond to the long-term needs of our Veterans and their caregivers,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Today we are proud to answer her call on behalf of the Veterans we serve and those who care for them.”


The quest for uncovering new solutions for the challenges facing caregivers and veterans does not end here. The Foundation will continue to engage with academic institutions and military communities in pursuit of sharing new discoveries with leaders of the VA Health Care System and providers across the nation.


For more information on the VA’s Health Services Research and Development Program visit:


About Elizabeth Dole


A native of North Carolina, Elizabeth Dole received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Duke University, graduating with distinction as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Following her success as an undergraduate, Dole pursued post-graduate work in education at both Oxford and Harvard. She earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Harvard University and a Doctorate of Law from Harvard Law School, where she was one of only 24 women in her graduating class of 550.


Dole launched her career in public service in 1960, working on the Kennedy-Johnson presidential campaign, and subsequently served in the Johnson, Nixon, and Ford administrations.


Senator Elizabeth Dole’s list of achievements demonstrates her lifelong commitment to service, made even more impressive by the fact that she was often among the first, if not the first, woman to hold her positions, starting with her appointment to the Federal Trade Commission in 1973.


She was later appointed by President Ronald Reagan to become the first female Secretary of Transportation. Because the Coast Guard was part of the Department of Transportation during her service, she has the distinction of being the first woman to head a U.S. military branch.


Following this appointment, she served as Secretary of Labor under President George H.W. Bush, becoming the first woman to hold two different Cabinet positions in two different Presidential administrations.


In these national leadership roles, Dole focused on public safety and health. In her capacity as Secretary of Transportation, she made significant safety improvements.


Most notably, she’s credited with the historic “trifecta” of regulations that went into effect on the same day in 1984. This resulted in safety belt use laws in 49 states, air bags in cars, and a national drinking age of 21. These regulations are credited with saving close to half a million lives to date and continue to save an estimated 20,000 lives annually.


As Secretary of Labor, Dole focused on protecting Americans from workplace injuries and created initiatives that helped at-risk-youth find employment. Within this role, she negotiated a raise in the minimum wage and created the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills to encourage a high-performance economy characterized by high-skill, high-wage employment. Through these accomplishments, she was an instrumental force in the effort to break the glass ceiling for women in high federal executive positions.


Dole assumed the presidency of the American Red Cross in 1991, the first woman to hold the position since founder Clara Barton more than a century prior. Under her guidance, the American Red Cross restructured and reorganized after the chaos of blood donation during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis.


Additionally, she played an instrumental role in her husband’s 1996 presidential campaign before running her own campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. Dole returned to her home state and became the first woman to win North Carolina’s Senate seat in 2002.


In 2012, Dole founded the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to support military caregivers after witnessing the hardships these spouses, parents, siblings, and friends of wounded, ill, and injured veterans and service members face while she was caring for her husband, Bob, during an extended stay at Walter Reed Hospital. Since the Foundation’s launch, she has led the way in exposing the military caregiving crisis and bringing crucial resources to help these hidden heroes.


Awards and Honors

Due to her incredible record of public service, Senator Elizabeth Dole has been honored with a multitude of prestigious awards and high honors, including:

Induction into the Safety and Health Hall of Fame

Humanitarian Award from the National Commission Against Drunk Driving,

Lifetime Achievement Award from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,

“Flame of Life Award” from the National Safety Council

Military Family National Service Award from the Military Officers Association of America

William O. Douglas Award from Public Counsel

Andrus Award from the AARP

Civic Statesmanship Award from the Former Members of Congress Association

Induction into Indiana Wesleyan University’s Society of World Changers


About The Elizabeth Dole Foundation


The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers; the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans. Founded by Senator Elizabeth Dole in 2012, the Foundation adopts a comprehensive approach in its advocacy, working with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit and faith communities to recognize military caregivers’ service and promote their well-being.


Mission Statement

Strengthen and empower America’s military caregivers and their families by raising public awareness, driving research, championing policy, and leading collaborations that make a significant impact on their lives.


About Our Programs

The Foundation’s programs provide military and veteran caregivers the support they need at the local, state, and national levels. These programs engage individuals, organizations, and communities across the country to get involved and make a difference in the lives of military caregivers.



Dole Caregiver Fellows are the heart and soul of the Foundation. They are military caregivers, carefully selected each year from across to the country to represent the Foundation. Each class consists of approximately 50 Fellows, who serve a two-year term.


Leaders in their community, they share their personal stories to bring vital attention to the tremendous challenges caregivers face and:

  • Advocate for increased support on Capitol Hill and in their local communities
  • Advise the Foundation on programs and initiatives
  • Serve as Hidden Heroes representatives at meetings, events and interviews
  • Provide inspiration and personal support for caregivers through the online Hidden Heroes Caregiver Community

These men and women have different backgrounds, but share similar stories of struggle and resilience. They come from every state, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, and care for spouses, children, partners, siblings, and friends from different eras of war. They care for scars that are both visible and invisible. Much like all caregivers, a Fellow’s work is never done and our alumni continue to take an active role following the conclusion of their terms. To read the stories of these inspiring women and men, please visit


If you are interested in joining the next class of Fellows, please register on to be notified when the application re-opens.


In response to the results of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s comprehensive RAND study, Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers, the Foundation engaged members of its National Coalition – public, private, nonprofit, labor and faith community partners – to develop forward-thinking strategies to tackle the complex challenges caregivers face.


The Foundation continues to engage with its coalition partners through the Impact Forum, an initiative dedicated to facilitating discussion on the needs of military and veteran caregivers, while spotlighting best practices for programs that serve this population. Through the Impact Forum, we seek to advance dialogue on emerging issues in the caregiver space and unite its partners around a set of actions to address those issues and questions.




America’s Warrior Partnership is committed to empowering communities to empower veterans. We fill the gaps that exist between current veteran service organizations by helping nonprofits connect with the veterans, military members and families in need: bolstering their efficacy, improving their results and empowering their initiatives. America’s Warrior Partnership is a force multiplier for warrior community integration that enhances communities where great Americans choose to live and contribute.


From city to city and town to town across America, there is no one organization or platform in place to ensure each unique veteran is fully and holistically supported. Each city, county and state is different; some are equipped to handle the return of hundreds and thousands of post-service veterans. In most places, however, scattered services are provided by disconnected agencies.


America’s Warrior Partnership is the connection that brings local veteran-centric nonprofits together through coordination and collaboration, ensuring consistent information is obtained and relevant services are provided. We attack inefficiency and amplify the work of established nonprofits and government agencies.


America’s Warrior Partnership brings the necessary and unifying resources to communities and makes it easier for the men and women who served our nation to lead the lives they deserve.



America’s Warrior Partnership is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization.



Warrior Community Integration is an all-out intervention. The program is a force-multiplier to fill the gaps that exist between organizations and to link nonprofits with more warriors who need help.



America’s Warrior Partnership is a national advocate for Warriors and those who serve them.



An independent software system custom-designed to make helping Warriors more efficient, easy, and impactful.



Veteran serving professionals come together from across the nation to share best practices, find creative solutions, and form new collaborative partnerships to better serve the veterans in their communities.



Thank You for the following for making these programs possible

*Army Veteran William Wischnewsky


*Colin Clark (Plane Ticket)

*America’s Warrior Partnership