The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on Wednesday regarding veteran caregivers. Chairman Susan Collins and Ranking Member Bob Casey hosted panels consisting of Senator Elizabeth Dole, founder of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and Ryan Phillippe, an actor, director and writer, followed by a second panel with representation from the RAND Corporation, veterans and caregivers. Much of their discussion focused on expanding caregiver benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs to veterans and their families who served before Sept. 11, 2001. Current law only provides benefits to eligible veterans and their families who served after 9/11. There was also a heavy focus on the need to include and expand respite care for caregivers –– or as they were typically referred to during the hearing –– hidden heroes. While most veteran caregivers who are eligible for benefits through VA receive health care coverage through CHAMPVA, Ranking Member Casey discussed the need to expand Medicaid and VA healthcare access for caregivers, as a study published by RAND Corporation shows many hidden heroes struggle with their own mental health, in part due to a lack of respite care, and are in need of mental health counseling for struggles with depression, addiction and other issues. Watch the hearing and read the testimony.