Washington, DC - February 16th, 2021 — Dunedin, Florida has pledged its support to local military and veteran caregivers by signing on as a Hidden Heroes City, joining the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s network of more than 160 communities nationwide committed to identifying military caregivers and increasing awareness and support.
The Hidden Heroes Cities and Counties program is part of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Campaign launched in 2016 by Senator Elizabeth Dole, Campaign Chair Tom Hanks and nearly 200 military caregivers representing virtually every state in the union.
Hidden Heroes raises awareness about the issues military caregivers face, brings critical resources to our nation’s “hidden heroes” caring for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans, and connects military caregivers to a community of their peers.
“If we want to be a nation that truly cares for those who have borne the battle, we must also be a nation that caregivers for our caregivers,” said Tom Hanks, Hidden Heroes Campaign Chair.
On February 16th 2021, the city of Dunedin joined the campaign as the 161th community to sign on as a Hidden Heroes Community, one of the campaign's key national initiatives designed to develop military caregiver resources at a local level. Each Hidden Heroes City, County, or State signs on to help identify local military caregivers and deepen community resources to offer them vital support.
Jennifer Henius is the wife of a Marine Corps Veteran, a long-distance Caregiver for her Veteran father, and a nationally recognized caregiver advocate who brought this initiative to the city’s Veterans’ Advisory Committee for consideration. “I am so proud to champion our military and veteran caregivers and of the overwhelming support by the city of Dunedin leadership today to pass the Hidden Heroes City resolution!” Jennifer is the founder of Yoga4Caregivers which she established at the onset of COVID to support the health and wellness of family caregivers and is working to establish a nonprofit called the Caregiver Wellness Collective, Inc. “The U.S. Military Veterans Advisory Committee is so strongly and enthusiastically supportive of this initiative” said Committee Chair, Rev. Robert Swick as the committee voted unanimously in support of the Resolution and “Hidden Heroes” campaign.
During the February City Commission meeting, the mayor and other commissioners expressed their support and appreciation for caregivers, their resiliency, compassionate spirt and the sacrifices they make devoting their time to their loved ones. “This partnership and ability to offer some services and resources to caregivers is a natural next step. I was a caregiver for both of my parents and it can be difficult and extremely isolating. So if there‘s a way that we can offer Veteran caregivers some support, even if it’s just emotional support, I’m all in” said Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski. The City Commission voted unanimously to approve Resolution 21-04 recognizing the City of Dunedin as a “Hidden Heroes” City(PDF, 143KB). Commissioner John Tornga stated “It’s such a salute to not only our Country, but to how we perceive and how we wish to take care of our Veterans and their caregivers.” To now have the opportunity to honor and appreciate them through the Hidden Heroes campaign is a moment to be very proud of. “This is the first step in identifying military and Veteran caregivers and helps increase local awareness and support services,” said Vince Gizzi, Parks & Recreation Director.
Individuals caring for someone who served, or those who wish to support the campaign can visit www.HiddenHeroes.org for more information.
“I have dedicated my life to this cause because I’ve seen first-hand the tremendous impact our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers make in the lives of our veterans each and every day, in neighborhoods big and small,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole, Founder of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “But their needs are overwhelming, and as a country, we must come together to find helpful ways to support them in their life-long journey of care. That begins by encouraging our caregivers to raise their hands, become a part of our Hidden Heroes Caregiver Community – it’s why our partnership with the City of Dunedin is so important.”
Senator Dole added, "The Elizabeth Dole Foundation envisions an America where military caregivers are empowered, appreciated and recognized for their service to the nation. Together, we are working towards a future where supporting military caregivers is no longer a cause, but it is part of the culture of our nation."
About Elizabeth Dole Foundation and Hidden Heroes
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 service members and Veterans at home. Founded by Senator Elizabeth Dole in 2012, the Foundation adopts a comprehensive approach in its support and advocacy, working with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit, and faith communities to recognize military caregivers’ service and promote their well-being. The Foundation’s Hidden Heroes campaign brings vital attention to the untold stories of military caregivers and provides a network for military caregivers to connect with their peers and access carefully vetted resources. Visit www.hiddenheroes.org for more information.