KC metro cities may soon recognize Hidden Heroes to help local war veterans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - War veterans across Kansas City are dealing with PTSD and other debilitating injuries every day.

In fact, according to Hidden Heroes, a program set up by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, there are 5.5 million military caregivers living in the United States.

The foundation’s new Hidden Heroes campaign is now shining light on military caregivers.

Dole Caregiver Fellow Jennifer Thorton of Leavenworth shares her story on the website. Thorton cares for her husband Jason, who is an Iraq War veteran.

Thorton remembers going through tons of red tape, trying to get medical benefits for her husband.

Jason Thorton retired from the US Army because of severe PTSD and a brain injury caused by an accident and loud explosions he heard repeatedly overseas.

“I was figuring this out on my own,” said Jennifer. Today she makes all the major decisions for their household, which also includes their son.

“I don’t know what I’d do without my wife,” said Jason. He continued to say he would be in assisted living if it weren’t for her.

Jason also lives with leg and back pain and needs help getting around.

In dealing with his medical needs, his wife Jennifer has learned what works and what doesn’t. But for new caregivers, finding help can be a challenge.

Hidden Heroes checks out a program’s legitimacy and then lists them on its website so people can easily find services.

“At the top we have find resources. Then you tab what you want to find,” explained Jennifer. "If I had access to something like the Hidden Heroes website, it would've made my life a whole lot easier."

Cities in the metro may be recognizing their efforts soon.

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is building a network of Hidden Heroes cities.

First, the city commits support to military caregivers. Then it looks at ways to improve services for veterans, and if possible, their caregiver.

The Kansas City Mayor’s Office has expressed interest in making a resolution to support Hidden Heroes.

KCK and Leavenworth are also looking at becoming cities as well.

Manhattan and Garden City are already involved.

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Belinda Post can be reached at belinda.post@kshb.com.

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