Merrimack woman named Dole Caregiver Fellow

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced the selection of military and veteran caregiver Katherine Wolfe, of Merrimack, as a 2016 Dole Caregiver Fellow.

The foundation’s fellowship program is a nationwide initiative that gives a voice to military and veteran caregivers who have volunteered to serve as advocates and ambassadors for the 5.5 million spouses, parents, children and other loved ones caring for our nation’s wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans.

Wolfe’s story is posted on the foundation’s website along with information about the other caregivers selected for this program at www.elizabethdolefoundation.org/state/new-hampshire:

"Katie’s husband Scott spent a year in Sadr City, Iraq, as a tank gunner. During his tour he experienced 18 IED blasts, often as the lead tank. A year after his return, Scott began having anger issues and trouble with physical therapy due to nerve damage and muscle atrophy. Two years later, he was both a Squad Leader and a patient at the Balboa Warrior Transition Unit where he was treated for PTS, and neck and back strain. Seven years later, Scott’s diagnosis included TBI and nerve damage, and his condition has deteriorated. Katie assists Scott with dressing and mobility. She keeps him active, tracks his medications and appointments, and works with him through tough mental health times.

"As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Katie hopes to connect more military caregivers to resources. She also wants to use her opportunity to help civilians better understand what it means to be a military caregiver, and the sacrifices families make to help their veteran heal."

The Dole Caregiver Fellowship is one of the foundation’s principal programs for raising awareness and driving change for America’s military and veteran caregivers. In 2015, the Dole Caregiver Fellows provided insight and advice about the serious challenges encountered by their peers during meetings with the White House, Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 100 members of Congress, and dozens of leaders in the private, nonprofit and faith communities.

"The stories and experiences of our Dole Caregiver Fellows are at the heart of our foundation’s work," Sen. Elizabeth Dole said. "These caregivers contribute critical firsthand perspective and knowledge, and their personal experience serves to strengthen the work of the foundation and our partners.

"I am grateful for these individuals who have found it in their hearts to extend themselves beyond the challenges of caregiving to shoulder the responsibility of acting as a voice for their peers, our nation’s hidden heroes."

The 2016 fellows join the foundation as it prepares to launch the Hidden Heroes Campaign, a major national awareness initiative chaired by actor Tom Hanks. They will also pick up on the work of last year’s fellows, who helped the foundation launch seven impact councils around the most urgent caregiver issues, and advised the creation of new online training courses and respite care resources.

They will also continue the advocacy efforts of their predecessors, who, by raising awareness on Capitol Hill, inspired two pieces of legislation and saw the approval of $605 million for the VA’s Caregiver support program. This $50 million over the requested budget was a major victory for the caregiver community.