I had the privilege of joining the Alzheimer’s Association this past April to help push forward our public policy agenda with Congress, the Administration, and state governments across the country. I couldn’t have joined at a more interesting time. But, like you, we don’t do this work because it’s interesting. We do it because it’s a mission. We’re advocates because we recognize how important it is for our country to move off the mark, and respond to this disease with energy, focus, and determination that’s equal to Alzheimer’s devastating impact.
To be candid, so far our federal government hasn’t done so. However, thanks to the tireless efforts of Alzheimer’s volunteer advocates and committed champions in Congress, we are starting to see encouraging signs that momentum is building in this direction.
One recent conversation with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indicates how volunteer advocate efforts and Congressional champions work hand in hand. In this meeting to discuss how we can secure more Alzheimer research funding, Senator Reid mentioned how his views on Alzheimer’s were shaped several years ago, well before he was leader of the Senate. Senator Reid was told by a Nevada doctor about his first hand experiences caring for Alzheimer patients. The doctor also made a prediction the Senator never forgot – if we don’t find a way to treat this disease, it will bankrupt the nation. The doctor was right, of course, and his conversation set the stage many years later for us to have a very productive meeting with one the most powerful elected officials in the nation.
What’s the point? Well, one point is that the work of our grassroots advocates, like the Nevada doctor, is extremely important. More than you may know. You might not see the impact the day of a visit, a phone call, or an email, but it can last for years to come and add critical momentum to all our efforts.
Have a moment to take an action right now? Please urge your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act (S.1492/H.R. 3286). Then, call your local Alzheimer’s chapter to let them know that you want to participate in visits to your local congressional offices. Every visit, every conversation, matters.
I hope you’ll keep visiting this blog, and share it with your friends. We’ll be using it to keep you up to speed on our efforts. We also hope you’ll leave a comment and let us know how your efforts are going as well.
– Robert Egge
Vice President, Public Policy and Advocacy
National Alzheimer’s Association