This past year has brought many challenges to all of us. Personally, as I reflect on 2020, joining the New England Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America stands out as a very bright light during a very stressful time.
Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many of you. I’ve really enjoyed hearing about your military service and deeply admire the love you have for our country. I’ve also learned more about your injuries and the obstacles you and your families face on a daily basis because of them. What has moved me the most, however, is the determination I’ve heard in your voices to live your life to the fullest despite the setbacks you’ve been dealt.
I believe, now more than ever, that our country needs to do more for the men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect it.
Having the opportunity to advocate for your rights is a great privilege, one that I will never take for granted. It’s an honor to be a part of the New England Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America and I look forward to all that we will accomplish together in 2021. In the meantime, I wish you and your families a very happy and healthy holiday season!
Kristen McCone Gordon
Take Action on the AUTO Act
There is still time to take action on the AUTO Act!
Please help our Chapter encourage more members of the New England Delegation to cosponsor this legislation by taking a few minutes to fill out our VoterVoice message. VoterVoice is a new program from PVA that allows us to harness the grassroots power of our members in a quick, easy, and effective way. The VoterVoice system enables members to take action by sending a pre-written email to your representatives in Congress. All you need to do is fill in your name, address, and hit send.
As you know, The AUTO for Veterans Act (H.R. 5761/S. 4155) has been one of our most pressing legislative priorities this year. This legislation would lessen the financial burden and expand access to transportation for eligible, disabled veterans by allowing them to receive an additional Automobile Grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), every ten years. Please contact me for more information or with any questions on this important piece of legislation.
NEPVA continues to build strong relationships with the New England Congressional Delegation.
In addition to the conversations we had with Members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill back in March, I’ve been meeting virtually with the district staff of our New England Congressional Delegation throughout the year. To date, I’ve held briefings with the following district offices: Congresswoman Trahan; Congressman Moulton; Congressman Keating; Congresswoman Pressley; Congressman McGovern; Congressman Neal; Senator Whitehouse; Senator Hassan; Congresswoman Kuster; Senator Blumenthal; Senator Murphy; Congresswoman Hayes; and, Congressman Himes. The objectives of these meetings are to give our Representatives a better sense of who we are as an organization, highlight the needs and challenges of our members, and to discuss our Chapter’s legislative priorities.
Among other issues, I’ve raised the importance of protecting specialized services at SCI Centers, how our members shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of the full cost of an adapted automobile, and why Congress should make access to IVF a permanent part of the medical benefits package at the VA.
I’m happy to report that I’m seeing strong signs that our outreach efforts are working. Several members of Congress have signed on to our legislative priorities and others have told us they are seriously reviewing them. Another Senator’s office asked us to participate in a policy strategy session, so they could ensure that they understood your needs as they develop their 2021 priorities. Additionally, and what I am most encouraged to see, our member participation rate is increasing. More of you are taking the time to participate in our VoterVoice campaigns, and directly contacting your Representatives regarding the issues facing our Chapter members.
These are all promising signs, but our work is not done until our legislative priorities are passed. If you would like to participate in future briefings, or would like me to raise an issue on your behalf in the future, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Protecting our members during COVID 19
As we move through a dangerous time in the course of this pandemic, we continue to monitor and advocate for non-discriminatory Crisis Standards of Care guidelines. We have been resolute in our message that no one should be denied life-saving treatment during this pandemic on account of either underlying disabilities or projected estimations of one’s quality of life.
To date, we have sent letters to the state of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut to protest their lack of clear guidance that would protect your rights should hospitals become overwhelmed. Several of our members wrote compelling statements on how their lives would be affected by these draconian policies and we joined forces with our colleagues in disability advocacy communities throughout New England to bolster their efforts. While Massachusetts and New Hampshire have released updated guidance, the state of Connecticut has not. Along with a strong coalition of advocates, we continue to pressure the Lamont Administration to produce clear guidance on this issue. I will continue to update you on this matter as it evolves.
If you would like a copy of our letters, or would like to discuss this in greater detail, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-660-1181 #3.