Project Sanctuary Awarded Grant to Help Military Caregivers

Washington, D.C. (January 12, 2017) – The Elizabeth Dole Foundation today announced Project Sanctuary as a recipient of a 2017 grant from the Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Fund dedicated to supporting innovative programs making a direct impact in the lives of America’s military and veteran caregivers. More than half a million dollars will be distributed to fourteen nonprofit organizations to create new initiatives or expand existing programs. The 2017 grant recipients were competitively selected from among nearly 150 applications from organizations nationally.

“When the Foundation launched the Hidden Heroes Campaign in September, we renewed our commitment to supporting initiatives that improve the lives of the spouses, mothers, dads, children, siblings, and friends who are caring for America’s wounded warriors,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole. “The Hidden Heroes Fund is just one of the ways in which we are continuing that commitment. We are thrilled about the work of these fourteen organizations, and their potential to make a real difference.”

Project Sanctuary, an innovative therapeutic program that focuses on strengthening military families during the stressful times of deployment, transition and reintegration, will expand its program, offering retreats nationwide and, in 2017, reaching an additional 325 families through 27 additional retreats, thanks to support such as the Hidden Heroes Fund grant. Project Sanctuary will also continue outreach to the 1,800 families on its waitlist to provide pre-retreat assessment and crisis intervention. Project Sanctuary uses the A.R.T. model – Assess (pre-retreat support services), Reconnect (6-day therapeutic retreat for the whole family), and Thrive (two years of follow-up services). The program is unique in its treatment of the family as a unit while also working with each family member individually to assess their needs. The overall goal is easing the reconnection of families previously distanced as a result of deployment and military service, including resultant injuries.

Selection criteria for the grants included: the organization’s effectiveness in directly addressing the unique needs of military caregivers, as determined by the Foundation-commissioned RAND study which established baseline research on the status of military caregivers; alignment with the Foundation’s eight critical impact areas; community support at home, education/training, employment, faith and spirituality, financial and/or legal support, mental and physical health, military family support and respite care; use of the RAND study findings on military caregivers or other evidence-based resources to inform the creation of effective programming for caregivers; and the replicability of the program.

“As a national leader in military family transition services, Project Sanctuary has been at the forefront of addressing the visible and invisible wounds of war inflicted upon active duty and prior service military members as well as their family members since 2007,” said Heather Ehle, Project Sanctuary founder and CEO. “We are proud to be a member of Hidden Heroes’ National Coalition for Military Caregivers and Mental and Physical Health Impact Council, working together to meet the needs of military family members and caregivers across the country. The Hidden Heroes Fund grant enables us to bring significantly more military families into our two-year, comprehensive program in 2017. Together we are saving lives by providing hope and a sense of purpose by focusing on the overall health and wellness of the entire family.”

2017 Hidden Heroes Fund grant recipients are as follows:

For interviews with Elizabeth Dole Foundation Executive Director Steve Schwab and grant recipients, please contact Austin Courtney at or 202-414-0791.


About The Elizabeth Dole Foundation
The mission of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation is to strengthen and empower America’s military caregivers and their families by raising public awareness, driving research, championing policy, and leading collaborations that make a significant impact on their lives. Learn more about the Hidden Heroes campaign at
About Hidden Heroes
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 to better connect them to helpful resources and support.
About Project Sanctuary
Founded in 2007, Project Sanctuary takes our military families from battle-ready to family-ready by providing six-day, outdoor, therapeutic retreats in a healing environment and ongoing family support services for two years following each retreat. Project Sanctuary holds a 4-star rating on Charity Navigator, the GuideStar Gold Participant badge, and Better Business Bureau Charity Accreditation. Sponsors that help make Project Sanctuary programs possible include the USO, First Command Financial Services, Aimco Cares, Healthy Marriage Project, The Kendeda Fund and YMCA of the Rockies. More information is available online at

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