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Red Cross Expands Support Services for Nation’s Military by Adding Resources to Military Veteran Caregivers Network

5.5 million caregivers are supporting wounded, ill or injured service members and veterans

Washington, D.C., June 9, 2017 — Through its nationally-available Hero Care Network, the American Red Cross has now expanded its services to support military service members and veterans by adding the Military Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) to the platform.

Every day in the United States, there are an estimated 5.5 million people who are providing crucial support to wounded, ill or injured service members and veterans. Helping these caregivers access the highest quality peer support programs and services – online and in their communities – is critical, as caregivers often experience many challenges without access to adequate support. Consequences to this lack of support often include declining personal health, a greater strain on family relationships or employment issues.

“Being a caregiver is so often a daunting job,” said Melissa Comeau, Director of the Military Veteran Caregiver Network. “Many times caregivers find themselves alone – in need of guidance and advice or wanting to engage with someone who has shared similar experiences – that’s where the MVCN comes in. I’ve lived through the isolation and the challenges of being a caregiver, and I am so pleased that the Red Cross has devised a way to provide such critical support to so many who need it.”

According to a 2014 Rand report titled Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers, commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, there are 5.5 million caregivers - family and friends - who care for those who are wounded, ill or injured as a result of their service to our country.

“The American Red Cross has a long and rich history of serving our armed forces and their families”, said Senator Elizabeth Dole, founder and president of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “The Red Cross is a critical partner of our Hidden Heroes Campaign, which is designed to raise awareness of the enormous contributions and challenges of our nation’s military and veteran caregivers and to increase support for them. Today’s announcement is a major step forward in bringing together two valuable Foundation partners vital to the support of military caregivers long term.”

The MVCN mission is to provide our nation’s military and veteran caregivers with peer support to reduce their isolation and increase their sense of connectedness, engagement, hopefulness and wellness, as well as their knowledge and skills. This network helps caregivers of all ages, at all stages of caregiving, by providing access to an online peer support community, a peer mentor program, and a peer support group that can be accessed both online and in their community. Along with the peer support programs, MVCN makes available a resource library, a caregiver master calendar and an online magazine WeCare, for partners, supporters and caregivers.

"The MVCN was modeled after the nationally recognized peer-based emotional support programs of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which provides compassionate care and peer-based programs for all those who are grieving a military loved one," said Bonnie Carroll, Founder and President of TAPS. "TAPS and the Red Cross have collaborated to support the warfighters and their families and survivors for over two decades. The caregiver mission of the MVCN is a perfect complement to the work already being done by the Red Cross. The MVCN is an extraordinary network, an exceptional resource, and the answer to many prayers."

Caregivers wishing to access vital peer-based support or learn more can go online to www.MilVetCaregiverNetwork.org or contact their local Red Cross office. Assistance is also available through a referral from partner agencies such as Blue Star Families or the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.

To learn more about Red Cross Hero Care Network go to RedCross.org/HeroCareNetwork.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.