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Senators Elizabeth and Bob Dole Recognize Senator Collins for Advocacy on Behalf of Military Caregivers

Marjorie Pennington, a 2017 Elizabeth Dole Fellow and military caregiver from Kenduskeag, Maine, presented Senator Collins with the award

Click HERE for a high-resolution photo of Senator Collins with Tom Hanks and Senator Elizabeth Dole


Click HERE for a high-resolution photo of Senator Collins with Marjorie Pennington and Steve Schwab.


Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) was honored last night with the first Congressional Caregiver Champion Award at the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Heroes and History Makers Dinner for her outstanding advocacy of military caregivers.  Actor and military caregiver advocate Tom Hanks, as well as TODAY anchor Savannah Guthrie and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were also honored at the ceremony.


“Nowhere is our duty as citizens greater than in our obligation to support the men and women of our armed forces, who bear the wounds of their service, and to support their family caregivers, who serve them,” said Senator Collins.  “I am honored to receive the Caregiver Champion Award, and I thank my dear friends and true American heroes, Senators Elizabeth and Bob Dole, for their commitment to this remarkable cause.”


"Senator Collins has devoted herself to finding legislative solutions to the most urgent concerns of our military and veteran caregivers,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole.  “Through her dedication and leadership, she has helped forever change how America supports our hidden heroes. She is a true champion of all of America's caregivers, and I am proud to recognize her with this honor."


In June 2017, Senator Collins chaired a hearing of the Senate Aging Committee to examine the challenges facing the 5.5 million individuals in the United States who are providing informal care on a routine basis to veterans in need of regular assistance.  A new report, released at the hearing, found that the individuals are providing roughly $14 billion a year in voluntary, uncompensated care, and that these spouses, parents, friends and other loved ones transform their lives to provide daily, essential care for those who have protected and served our nation.


To support these devoted family members, Senator Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, announced that the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill that was signed into law in September provides $181 million for the National Family Caregiver Support Program.  The funding includes a $300,000 investment for the creation of a Family Caregiving Council to implement the RAISE Family Caregivers Act, a new law Senator Collins authored that will establish a coordinated strategy to support family caregivers. 


In addition, following Senator Collins’ advocacy, the FY 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations bill that was signed into law in September includes $865 million – an increase of $369 million over the amount requested in the administration’s budget – for the VA Caregiver Program.  This program, which supported caregivers of post-9/11 veterans, will be expanded in the coming years to include pre-9/11 veterans and their caregivers with the enactment of the VA Mission Act, which was championed by Senator Collins. 


The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s military caregivers.  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.