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The Elizabeth Dole Center of Excellence for Veteran and Caregiver Research

In October 2018, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs founded the Elizabeth Dole Center of Excellence for Veteran and Caregiver Research (Dole COE). The Salt Lake Veteran Affairs Medical Center (SL VAMC) is one of four funded VA sites. The other three sites are located in San Antonio, Texas; Miami, Florida; and Palo Alto, California.  Dr. Mary Jo Pugh is the Principal Investigator for the Salt Lake City location.

The aim of the Dole COE is to determine the most effective care for Veterans by including military caregivers in the execution of healthcare models. The Dole COE will use evidence-based research to identify the needs, support structures, and models that work well for Veterans receiving care in their homes and community care settings. Including and recognizing caregivers as part of the Veterans’ medical team is vital to this effort.

In the United States, there are about 5.5 million military caregivers. These caregivers tend to injured, ill, or cognitively impaired service members and veterans. Caregivers can be family members such as a spouse, parent or child of the Veteran. Caregivers can also be a friend or other acquaintance. They provide assistance in daily care and manage the health of the veteran. This can include functional daily tasks, such as bathing assistance or tending to wounds, helping pay bills, clean, grocery shop, and cook meals. They might accompany Veterans to healthcare or other appointments, or just spend quality time with a Veteran. Caregivers can increase the quality of life a Veteran experiences as well as enhance the recovery process.

While military caregivers save the United States millions of dollars in healthcare costs, it can come at a cost to the caregiver themselves. TORCH investigators, under the guidance of Dr. Pugh comprise the Data & Policy Core of the Dole COE. Our team analyzes data collected nationally and through each of the Dole COE sites to determine key intervention points in order to support policy efforts to improve care for Veterans and support Veteran caregivers.

For more information please visit the Dole COE website here.

You can read more about military caregivers through this publicly available report.