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Elizabeth Dole Foundation Announces Diane Petrini of San Diego as 2017 Fellow

San Diego Resident and Military and Veteran Caregiver will Advocate for5.5 million Hidden Heroes caring for Wounded, Ill and Injured Veterans

San Diego County CA— The Elizabeth Dole Foundation today 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 Diane Petrini of San Diego. As a military/veteran caregiver, Diane will represent the state of California from 2017-2019.

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 excited to be part of the 2017 class of Dole Caregiver Fellows.  I look forward to the opportunity to work with this dynamic group of caregivers,” said Diane. “There is a need for military caregivers to be acknowledged and supported, including pre-9/11 caregivers who are not always aware of all of the support and resources available to them.  I am humbled and delighted for the opportunity to represent California.”

“We are excited to have Diane 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 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 firsthand knowledge, skills, expertise, and personal experiences to our shared mission.”

Diane Petrini has been a military caregiver for most of her life. She is married to Joe, her husband of 45 years. Shortly after Joe sustained damaging shrapnel wounds while serving in Vietnam, Diane and Joe wed. For the next 40 years, Diane would become Joe’s primary caregiver resulting in Diane closing down their 22-year real estate asset management business.

Senator 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.


About The Elizabeth Dole Foundation & Hidden Heroes

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation continues to strengthen and empower America’s military caregivers and their families by raising public awareness, driving research, championing policy, and leading collaborations. Learn more about the Elizabeth Dole Foundation at www.elizabethdolefoundation.org.

Hidden Heroes, an initiative of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, brings vital attention to the untold stories of military caregivers and seeks solutions for the tremendous challenges and long-term needs they face. Hidden Heroes’ goals are to raise awareness of the issues military caregivers confront every day; inspire individuals, businesses, communities, and civic, faith and government leaders to take action in supporting military caregivers in their communities; and, establish a national registry, encouraging military caregivers to register at HiddenHeroes.org to better connect them to helpful resources and support.

About Diane Petrini

No ordinary person, Diane Petrini has been a military caregiver for most of her life. She married her husband, Joe, 45 years ago, shortly after he sustained damaging shrapnel wounds while serving in Vietnam. For the next 40 years, Diane cared for Joe but in 2012, Diane and Joe encountered their biggest challenge yet when Joe suffered a debilitating bilateral stroke. Diane had to close their 22-year real estate asset management business to be Joe’s full-time caregiver. Diane found she could share her story, her emotions, her frustrations and laughter, as well as Joe’s tremendous progress and continued improvement with the Ladies Auxiliary of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (LAMOPH).

For Diane, being a military caregiver is her duty and responsibility. This same sense of duty to advocate for her husband drives Diane to share her experience as a Dole Caregiver Fellow. Diane plans to bring what she learns as a Fellow back to her community to help identify new caregivers, provide them with emotional support and deliver resources caregivers really need.