Local Houtzdale Resident and Military and Veteran Caregiver Kristen Berg will Advocate for the 5.5 million Hidden Heroes caring for Wounded, Ill. and Injured Veterans
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Elizabeth Dole Foundation has announced its 2017 class of Dole Caregiver Fellows – 31 military and veteran caregivers who have been carefully selected from across the country to represent the foundation, including Kristen Berg of Houtzdale.
As a military/veteran caregiver, Berg will represent the state of Pennsylvania from 2017-19.
Leaders in their communities, these men and women will share their personal stories to bring vital attention to the tremendous challenges caregivers face and advocate for America’s military and veteran caregivers through the foundation’s newly-launched Hidden Heroes initiative.
They will use their voices and perspective to advise the foundation, its coalition partners and government leaders on the foremost issues concerning military caregivers.
Additionally, the Dole Caregiver Fellows will empower other caregivers at HiddenHeroes.org, a premier online destination where military caregivers can access vetted resources, seek support and connect to a larger community.
“I am thoroughly thrilled to be joining the Elizabeth Dole Foundation as a 2017 Fellow for the state of Pennsylvania,” said Berg. “I look forward to contributing to the mission with the Dole Foundation team, as well as providing insight and utilizing my knowledge and expertise to be a spokesperson and advocate on behalf of military caregivers locally and nationally.”
“We are excited to have Kristen as part of the 2017 class of Dole Caregiver Fellows. Each Fellow is an essential part of the foundation’s work,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole.
“They are ambassadors, advocates, advisors and spokespersons not only for the foundation but [also] for military and veteran caregivers across the nation. In addition to providing vital help to those who serve our country, the Fellows support the work of the foundation and our partners by lending their first-hand knowledge, skills, expertise and personal experiences to our shared mission.”
Kristen Berg understands invisible wounds of war. Her husband, Baren, served two tours with the U.S. Marine Corps, the first in Fallujah, Iraq and the second in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
During his combat operations, Baren Berg sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and spent over a month at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center suffering from flashbacks, nightmares and erratic behavior related to his injuries.
Although the couple is making progress toward recovery, Kristen Berg cares for her husband as he struggles with his invisible wounds in addition to issues such as memory loss, back and spine complications, TBI-related ADHD, lack of social awareness and sleep disturbances, among others.
As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Kristen Berg plans to raise awareness about the employment crisis facing many military caregivers. She hopes to educate employers on how to best provide a cohesive work environment that serves both the caregiver’s and the organization’s needs.
Kristen Berg believes it is important to communicate that military caregivers can still have goals and aspirations and lead relatively normal lives in addition to caring for their loved one.
Dole created the foundation’s cornerstone Dole Caregivers Fellows Program to directly engage military and veteran caregivers. The new Fellows’ class represents 25 states and the District of Columbia, adding to a remarkable group of 110 military caregivers who have already served as Fellows and who represent all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
From homemakers, professors and former high school teachers to police officers, writers, business owners and nurses, the Fellows’ stories are diverse, but together they capture the strength and resiliency inherent to the 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers across America.