From the Hill – June 2022

I had the opportunity to join Chapter President Michael Negrete and Chapter National Director Brad Carlson at PVA’s 76th Annual Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. PVA’s national leadership shared updates on the comprehensive ways that the organization serves our members. Among other issues, I learned of the impressive amount of funding that is being dedicated to SCI research & development, the opportunities and challenges of the many adaptive sports programs, and how PVA is growing and adapting to maximize their support to veterans.

It was an honor to accept the 2022 PVA Richard Fuller Outstanding Achievement in Government Relations Award. As I told PVA’s national directors and Executive Directors throughout the country, it’s a privilege to be a part of this organization and an honor to advocate for the men and women who have given so much to our nation. 

I believe very strongly in PVA’s legislative priorities. 

I believe that veterans deserve the right to fly comfortably across the country they served to protect without fearing injury from seat transfers with untrained airline staff, or dehydrating themselves because airplane bathrooms aren’t accessible.

I believe that veterans with spinal cord injury and disease deserve adequate funding to purchase adapted vehicles so that they can continue to live their lives as independently as possible.

And I believe very strongly that veterans with service-connected infertility deserve and have earned fertility benefits from the VA. 

I’m proud of the work we’ve done to help advance these, and the other legislative issues that we have spearheaded, but our work is really just getting started. With the leadership of our Chapter President, New England Board of Directors, and the active engagement of our members through our VoterVoice email system to legislators, I feel very confident and excited by what we will collectively accomplish for New England PVA members in the years to come. 

As always, please reach out directly to me at [email protected] if you would like to join our growing advocacy team.

Respectfully,

Kristen McCone Gordon

Beach Accessibility issues in New England

As we unofficially enter the summer season, we are interested in learning more about how accessible public beaches are for our members in New England. 

As you are most likely aware, beach access usually falls under ADA compliance as a public accommodation Title III or part Title II public services as administered by city or county with jurisdiction. The Access Board also released guidelines under outdoor recreation, however some jurisdictions file for an exemption due to the terrain. To ensure compliance with the ADA, individuals must file a complaint to the Department of Justice at: File a Complaint | Beta.ADA.gov and describe the lack of access/discrimination – from the parking lot, walking path, to the direct path onto the beach.

As a Chapter, we would like to know what your experiences have been in accessing public beaches and -to the extent possible – how we can best assist you in overcoming these challenges. Please reach out to me at [email protected] if you would be willing to discuss your experiences with me.

House and Senate approve critical piece of legislation for women veterans

We are thrilled to relay that on March 23rd, the United States Senate unanimously passed the Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act (S. 2533). On May 18th, the House of Representatives followed their lead and also passed the bill. This legislation directs the VA to develop a strategic plan to improve access and technology for mammography services throughout the Department. It also will create a tele-mammography pilot program for rural veterans and for medical centers that do not offer in-house mammography services. 

This legislation was among our Chapter’s top legislative priorities and we discussed it at length in our Congressional briefings with the New England Delegation. We emphasized that no veteran should be denied access to critical, lifesaving care because of mobility limitations. We also advocated that Congress must increase access to screening services for paralyzed veterans and veterans living with SCI/D. 

PVA will continue to monitor this Act’s progress because women Veterans shouldn’t encounter barriers when accessing the medical services they have earned with their service. For more information on how PVA supports #WomenVeterans: pva.org/get-involved/women-veterans-empowerment-retreat/.

Disability Rights Maine to host Disability Pride Day 

Disability Rights Maine is thrilled to announce the return of Disability Pride Day! After a 3-year break, we are excited to once against celebrate with our friends and allies.

When: Friday, July 8th from 11am-3pm

Where: The Pavilion at Mill Park, Water Street, Augusta

What: Lawn games, music, performances, pizza, and information tables from partners across Maine.

People are encouraged to carpool if possible, as parking is limited. In addition to Mill Park, parking is available on Canal Street (near the dog park) and Commercial Street (near Downtown).

Keep up with the latest Disability Pride news by following our Facebook event page or by visiting Disability Rights Maine’s website.

If you are interested in participating and joining our growing New England PVA’s advocacy team, please reach out to me at [email protected] or 571-289-8276. I look forward to speaking with you and telling you more about this opportunity!

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