VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System joined state and local officials in encouraging Pennsylvanians to support caretakers of Veterans, the hidden heroes among us.
The health care system hosted an event on its H.J. Heinz III campus announcing recent legislative action designating Pennsylvania a Hidden Heroes Commonwealth. Hidden Heroes through the Elizabeth Dole Foundation works to ensure caregivers of Veterans and service members have access to resources such as VA Pittsburgh’s Caregiver Support Program (CSP).
VA Pittsburgh Director Donald Koenig said the medical center has expanded and improved its CSP in the six years since Allegheny County signed on as a Hidden Heroes Community in 2017. The CSP aims to improve the quality of life for caregivers of Veterans who receive care at VA Pittsburgh.
“To us, they are more than caregivers,” said Koenig. “They are our partners; they are our teammates. They are hidden heroes.”
Keynote speaker Pennsylvania Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Mark J. Schindler encouraged all Pennsylvanians to support military and Veteran caregivers.
“It is not easy to care for others. It can be physically, emotionally and even financially draining,” said Schindler. “As a Hidden Heroes Commonwealth, we are all responsible to do anything in our power to ensure caregivers have the resources needed to keep caring for their loved ones.”
Officials presented caregiver and Elizabeth Dole Foundation fellow Robert Grier Jr. with citations from the Pennsylvania House and Senate. Grier, who cares for his father, Air Force Veteran Robert Grier Sr., represented all caregivers across Pennsylvania.
Jamie DaPos, VA Pittsburgh’s CSP manager, described Grier Jr. as a compassionate caretaker for his father and a strong voice for all caretakers.
“He strives every day to do anything he can to support his dad and ensure he receives the best care possible,” said DaPos. “He exemplifies the definition of a hidden hero.”
Grier Jr. said VA Pittsburgh and the Dole Foundation have been invaluable resources for his family and all the caregivers they serve.
DaPos said the medical center’s CSP staff of 12 maintain the Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS) and Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) for Pittsburgh-area caregivers.
PGCSS provides peer support mentoring, skills training, coaching, telephone support, online programs and referrals to available resources to caregivers of Veterans. PCAFC adds a monthly stipend, access to health care insurance, mental health counseling, certain beneficiary travel benefits and respite care.
Are you the caregiver of a Veteran? To connect with a VA Pittsburgh Caregiver Support Program coordinator, call 412-822-2364.