The Elizabeth Dole Foundation

The Challenge

America’s 5.5 million military caregivers—spouses, family, and friends of wounded, ill, or injured veterans and service members—face great physical, emotional, and family strain, and far too often face these challenges alone. Many caregivers are the sole breadwinners for their families, and most are balancing the responsibilities of managing a household, childcare, legal needs, and complex medical conditions. This results in higher rates of anxiety and depression, and deteriorating health for the caregivers themselves.

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation works to empower and support these hidden heroes nationally and in 108 cities. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation and its partners at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Philips, Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh wanted to celebrate these hidden heroes, while launching the Hidden Heroes Cities program in Pittsburgh. By convening government, nonprofit, community, and corporate leaders, they were able to identify long-lasting solutions for military caregivers and create a model that communities across the nation could leverage.

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation asked CURA Strategies to help amplify the message within the City of Pittsburgh The Elizabeth Dole Foundation: Celebrating Hidden Heroes in the Steel City through print and digital media.

How CURA Strategies and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Empower Military Caregivers

To capture the city’s attention and galvanize action, we needed to shine a light on military caregivers in Pennsylvania. In combining the story of Pittsburgh-area Marine Michael Ditto and his wife and caregiver Theresia with Senator Elizabeth Dole’s lifelong commitment to public service, we had a winning narrative that exposed the often-difficult realities of military caregiving, while also empowering caregivers to advocate for themselves and their veterans.

We wove this narrative into an op-ed that we placed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (left), the region’s leading newspaper. The op-ed and resulting media coverage provided a tangible opportunity, through the Hidden Heroes Cities Program, for other cities to join a growing national movement.


  • The op-ed, released online the evening before the event, reached a potential audience of 4,759,254 people.
  • The op-ed also drove additional online and broadcast coverage from TribLIVEStars and Stripes, WESA-FM, Channel 11 News (WPXI) and Pittsburgh Action News (WTAE-TV), engaging 3.1 million more individuals.