Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said Friday she is working to get the city to pledge its support to local military caregivers by becoming a “Hidden Heroes City.”
The network, created by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, consists of more than 150 communities in the U.S. that commit to identifying caregivers of veterans to give them increased support. Former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who created the foundation, said Los Angeles’ involvement in the organization is important because the city has the largest concentration of veterans in the U.S.
In a resolution she introduced Tuesday, Rodriguez notes that military and veteran caregivers are often responsible for bathing, feeding, dressing and caring for injuries of wounded warriors, but often receive little support or acknowledgement for their efforts.
“As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, I believe in the importance of supporting our veterans and their caregivers,” Rodriguez said. “Most of their care falls on their families, yet these caregivers are often overlooked. Hidden Heroes raises awareness of the issues they confront daily and provides resources and support. I am proud to introduce this resolution declaring the City of Los Angeles a Hidden Heroes City in support of military and veteran caregivers.”
According to Rodriguez’ resolution, research shows that “an alarming number” of military caregivers suffer potentially debilitating mental, physical and emotional effects due to their caregiving duties.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement that he supports signing on as a Hidden Hero City.
“As a city and as a nation, we bear a solemn responsibility to serve the women and men who serve us in uniform — and that includes the families who sacrifice so much to keep our heroes healthy and safe,” he said. “Thanks to the leadership of Councilmember Rodriguez and the partnership of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, our city can keep its firm commitment: that we will always do our part to support any veteran and caregiver that calls Los Angeles home.”
Actor Tom Hanks, who serves as the chair for the Hidden Heroes Campaign, said: “If we want to be a nation that truly cares for those who have borne the battle, we must also be a nation that cares for our caregivers.”
Dole established the foundation after she witnessed caregivers’ work when her husband, former Sen. Bob Dole, was admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2011, according to the foundation’s website.
“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,” she said. “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 Los Angeles, which has the largest concentration of veterans in the country, is so important.”