WASHINGTON, DC (August 5, 2020)—The Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have joined together to create a new program, Respite Relief for Military and Veteran Caregivers, which will offer family caregivers of veterans access to no-cost, short-term relief with the help of CareLinx in-home care professionals. The CareLinx donation of $1 million will provide more than 40,000 hours of non-medical homecare for more than 1,600 caregivers and their wounded, ill or injured loved ones. The program is being developed as the urgent need for respite care among military caregivers has become critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. The donation is made possible through the generous contribution by Generali, CareLinx’s parent company, who created a fund to support various relief efforts in countries significantly impacted by COVID-19. AARP has also joined as a key collaborator for this effort to help spread the word to military and veteran caregivers. 

“Since the foundation first began its work, we have seen the desperate need for short-term relief among veteran caregivers. The lack of affordable, convenient professional respite care takes a significant toll on the emotional and physical well-being of these hidden heroes and the limitations created by the COVID-19 pandemic have further reduced their respite options,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “We are grateful CareLinx has stepped up in such a generous way to make this program possible. We look forward to working with the VA to use CareLinx’s and potentially other contributors’ donations to provide urgent relief to those who need it most and working with AARP to reach millions of veterans and military families nationwide.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has further strained veteran caregivers who have lost the in-person support of family and friends because of social distancing regulations. Even as states begin re-opening, some of the nation’s most critically wounded or ill veterans and their caregivers will have a long journey back to the pre-pandemic world as their vulnerable immune systems require families to take every precaution against exposure.

“Caregivers charged with caring for our nation’s veterans face new challenges during the pandemic. They are becoming increasingly isolated and are hindered from getting reliable outside help,” said U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This compassionate and thoughtful program will give them some much-needed relief during this stressful time.”

Today marks the program launch date for eligible caregivers in select regions in California, Florida, and Texas to apply for services. This program will be able to offer selected veteran caregivers approximately 24-hours of respite care by providing a qualified in-home care professional for their veteran. These care professionals will be able to perform tasks such as companionship, grocery shopping, cooking, mobility assistance, transportation, bathing and other activities of daily living.

“CareLinx is honored to support our military families and veteran caregivers during this unprecedented time,” said Sherwin Sheik, CEO of CareLinx. “This program is a win-win for our nation’s caregivers; it will give family caregivers a much-needed break, enable vulnerable veterans to minimize their risk of exposure to COVID-19, and provide new rewarding work opportunities for professional caregivers." 

Depending on availability of hours, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation seeks to further expand the program to other regions of the country later on in 2020. The foundation has established a Respite Relief Fund where organizations can contribute funding to support expansion to other regions of the country. Individuals seeking to learn more about the Respite Relief Fund should contact respiterelief@elizabethdolefoundation.org.

Eligibility Requirements:

  1. You must be a family caregiver to a wounded, ill, or injured veteran or service member (and submit proof of service).
  2. Requested relief support includes one of the following: companionship, light housekeeping, grocery shopping and meal preparation, transportation, mobility support/transferring, exercise, toileting, bathing, dressing and grooming. If you and your care recipient need more assistance such as assistance with administering medications, in home physical therapy, or any other type of specialized medical care, you will not be eligible for this service at this time.
  3. The military/veteran family must seek respite care relief in Florida, California, and Texas (and only in those zip codes with available services).

For more information, please visit hiddenheroes.org/respite.