Florida woman named ’Hidden Hero’ among military veteran caregivers
By JULIE KANNER | The Florida Times-Union | Published: November 7, 2019
(Tribune NewsService) — Mary Ella Majetich of Jacksonville traveled to Washington, D.C., in October to participate in the fourth annual National Convening for Veteran Caregivers, "Hidden Heroes Among Us: Inspiring Community Action in the Caregiver Journey," as a Dole Caregiver Fellow for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.
Majetich joined U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, former first lady Michelle Obama, Academy Award winner Tom Hanks, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, "Today" co-anchor Savannah Guthrie and singer Rita Wilson, along with other Dole Caregiver Fellows from across the country, for a week of advocacy events supporting military caregivers.
Activities included the foundation's Heroes and History Makers event hosted by Sens. Elizabeth and Bob Dole. Hanks presented the inaugural Tom Hanks Caregiver Champion Award to Obama.
She addressed the fellows during her acceptance speech, telling them, "You have changed the way I see service, you've changed the way I see war, you've changed the way I see this entire country."
Majetich had been selected as a Dole Caregiver Fellow to represent Florida caregivers of service members and veterans. In Washington she met with members of Congress and national leaders to discuss the needs and challenges of military caregivers, such as respite care and support from agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Majetich cares for her husband, Jerry, a veteran who has served in the Army, Marine Corps and National Guard. He was serving as a psychological operations tactical team leader in Iraq when he suffered multiple severe injuries in an IED explosion.
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation was established in 2012 by Dole and works with community leaders for the support and advocacy of military caregivers. Its Hidden Heroes Campaign provides a network for military caregivers to access resources and to connect with their peers. Majetich is featured as a Hidden Hero on the campaign website at hiddenheroes.org/story/mary-ella-Majetich/.