Supporting Our Military Families and Hidden Helpers

In November 2021, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project and the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative, launched the Hidden Helpers Coalition. With more than 100 member organizations today, the Coalition seeks to raise awareness of — and fill gaps in support and services for — “hidden helpers,” the 2.3 million children who care for, or who are impacted by the care needs of wounded, ill or injured service members or veterans.

Nemours Children’s was the first pediatric health system to join the Hidden Helpers Coalition and commit to supporting hidden helpers in the clinical setting.

At the Coalition launch event, hosted at the White House, the partners behind the Hidden Helpers Coalition announced a series of commitments to address gaps and needs identified in the first major research study focused on military caregiver children and adolescents, Hidden Helpers at the Frontlines of Caregiving: Supporting the Healthy Development of Children from Military and Veteran Caregiving Homes. Nemours, in collaboration with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, committed to create a continuing education course aimed at increasing the ability of health care providers and allied health professionals to understand and support the needs of hidden helpers. Released in Spring 2024, the course is publicly available at no cost via Nemours learning management system and offers 1.75 continuing education credits for health care providers.

Today’s event, cohosted by Nemours, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and Senator Tom Carper, will:

  • Elevate awareness of the unique challenges facing children in military and veteran families, particularly children who have a parent with service-related injuries or illnesses.
  • Celebrate recent work in support of children in military and veteran families.
  • Amplify commitments to improving and scaling collaboration with like-minded organizations and leaders, inclusive of event co-sponsors and panelists.
  • Increase awareness of, and participation in, the Hidden Helpers Coalition.
  • Feature new commitments made by event sponsors and panelists to increase support for children in military and veteran families.


Pledge of Allegiance

  • Thomas Brady, Cherry Hill Middle School and Military Family

Opening Remarks

  • Kara Odom Walker, MD, MPH, MSHS, Nemours Children’s Health
  • Steve Schwab, Elizabeth Dole Foundation
  • R. Lawrence Moss, MD, FACS, FAAP, Nemours Children’s Health
  • U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), MBA, United States Senate
  • Sheila Casey, White House Joining Forces Initiative, Office of the First Lady
  • Video Presentation: Jill Biden, EdD, First Lady of the United States
  • Silvia Lopez, 2020 Delaware Dole Caregiver Fellow, Code of Support Foundation and Military Family

Panel Facilitation

  • Carol Vassar, MS, Nemours Children’s Health, Well Beyond Medicine Podcast

Panel 1: Policy and Military Leadership

  • U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), MBA, United States Senate
  • Major General Michael R. Berry, MA, Delaware National Guard
  • Secretary Josette D. Manning, Esq., Delaware Department of Health and Social Services
  • Secretary Steven E. Yeatman, MEd, Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families

Panel 2: Education and the Early Years

  • Mandy Brady, BSN, RN, MBA, CPN, CRCR, ACM-RN, Nemours Children’s Health and Military Family
  • Thomas Brady, Cherry Hill Middle School and Military Family
  • Tara Gleason, MEd, Military Child Education Coalition
  • Laurie Sisk, Dover Air Force Base
  • Denise Stouffer, MEd, Providence Creek Academy
  • Jeanette Betancourt, EdD, Sesame Workshop

Panel 3: Health Care

  • Video Presentation: The Fischer Family and Eric S. Sandler, MD, Nemours Children’s Health, Jacksonville
  • Annie Pabon, Hidden Helper, Military Family
  • Silvia Lopez, 2020 Delaware Dole Caregiver Fellow, Code of Support Foundation and Military Family
  • Charo Bates, MBA, MS, MA, Elizabeth Dole Foundation
  • Tina Atherall, DSW, LMSW, PsychArmor Institute
  • Matthew Cook, MBA, Children's Hospital Association
  • Daniel Podberesky, MD, FACR, Nemours Children's Hospital, Florida

Closing Remarks

  • Steve Schwab, Elizabeth Dole Foundation
  • R. Lawrence Moss, MD, FACS, FAAP, Nemours Children’s Health

About Nemours Children’s Health

Nemours is one of the nation’s largest multistate pediatric health systems, which includes two free-standing children’s hospitals and a network of more than 74 primary and specialty care practices. Nemours seeks to transform the health of children by adopting a holistic health model that utilizes innovative, safe and high-quality care, while also caring for the health of the whole child beyond medicine. We also power from Nemours KidsHealth® — a pioneer and leader in pediatric health content, trusted by millions worldwide for more than 25 years. The Nemours Foundation, established through the legacy and philanthropy of Alfred I. duPont, provides pediatric clinical care, research, education, advocacy and prevention programs to the children, families and communities it serves.

About Senator Tom Carper

United States Senator Tom Carper has served as Delaware’s State Treasurer, Congressman, Governor and now senior Senator. He served five years as a naval flight officer, served three tours of duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and continued to serve in the Naval Reserve as a P-3 aircraft mission commander until retiring with the rank of captain in 1991 after 23 years of military service. He serves as Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, where he leads the fight to protect our environment, and serves on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Finance Committees. Throughout his career in public service, Senator Carper has been an advocate for affordable health care, strengthening families and early childhood education.

About the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and Hidden Heroes

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting and honoring our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers — the spouses, parents, family members and friends — who care for America’s wounded, ill or injured service members and veterans at home. 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.

We encourage event attendees to post on social media about this event using the hashtags #MilitaryFamilies, #HiddenHelpers and #WellBeyondMedicine.

Please also repost social media posts from Nemours, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the Office of Senator Tom Carper.

Nemours Children's Health

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Senator Tom Carper

Elizabeth Dole Foundation Logo Square

Elizabeth Dole Foundation

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Hidden Helpers

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Wounded Warrior Project