Wednesday May 15, 2013

Time to close Guantanamo prison

Editor of the Reformer:

Our thanks to Richard Evers and Dan DeWalt for their important articles (Reformer, May 10) on the despicable injustices endured by the prisoners at Guantanamo. We want to believe that in their hearts both President Obama and Senator Leahy want the prison closed, so there must be some formidable obstacles that prevent that from happening in spite of their expressed wishes and the stain it creates on our national reputation. But, we are puzzled by the lack of explanations on what these obstacles are, especially since at least 86 of the prisoners have been found "not guilty" and have been granted asylum by other countries. We are also deeply disturbed by what appears to be an intolerable double standard: President Bush was nailed by the Abu Ghraib scandal, but President Obama is not accountable for Guantanamo? We join with Richard Evers in asking Senator Leahy to take action but we also ask Bernie Sanders and Peter Welch and every citizen in Vermont to assess the situation and to act according to their conscience.

Vermonters believe in justice, freedom and transparency. We need our politicians to act on those values when they represent us in national and international matters. Now is the time for Vermonters to come together as a state on this issue and subject Washington to a flood of messages from everyone: letters, lawsuits, proposals, media pieces, rallies, e-mail campaigns, school projects, independent videos and performance pieces, conversations in cafes, churches, and schools using all of our diverse talents. No need for this to be a managed campaign -- independently just do it and together we will shake the foundations of Guantanamo so that it (metaphorically) comes tumbling down and Vermont, if not the USA, can be proud.

James Cumming

and Evangelina Holvino,

Brattleboro, May 13

Our country’s new
public health issue

Editor of the Reformer:

Alzheimer’s disease has been said to be the single most expensive malady in the U.S. -- exceeding heart disease and cancer -- because there is no prevention, no cure.

As a registered nurse for over 25 years, working primarily with the geriatric population, I find it my duty to advocate for this cause. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in this country and the only one in the top 10 without a way to prevent, cure, or even slow its progression. We will die from this horrible illness.

The New York Times wrote on April 1 that "Alzheimer’s disease is skyrocketing at a rate that rarely occurs with a chronic disease." Yet financially we have not proactively addressed this disease the way we have others. The National Institute for Health reports that research funding for FY 2013 for cancer is close to $6 billion, for HIV/AIDS it is $3 billion, and for Alzheimer’s it is less than half a billion. We have learned with other diseases that it is much more beneficial and cost effective to spend money on research rather than continue to treat symptoms that we don’t understand. If we don’t address this issue, Medicare/Medicaid spending could exceed $1,200 billion by 2050.

As a member of the Governor’s Commission on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia I was invited to attend the 25th annual Alzheimer’s Advocacy Forum last week in Washington, D.C. What a great time. About 1,000 advocates came from all over the country to speak for the cause.

Our team, organized by Martha Richardson, E.D. for the Vermont Alzheimer’s Chapter, had the opportunity to meet our Vermont representatives in Washington, D.C. We met with Senators Bernie Sanders’ and Patrick Leahy’s staff as well as staff of Congressman Peter Welch. It was a distinct honor to meet them, as they already do such great work in advocating for health and wellness and have a keen eye on our state’s aging population. This is important work for them because we have the second oldest state in the country (only superseded by Maine). During the office visits on the 24th we were pleased to be able to thank all of our representatives for their support of the search for a cure. All were supporters of the "HOPE for Alzheimner’s Act" during last congressional session and have either co-sponsored, or are considering to do so, for the bill this session. This Hope for Alzheimer’s Act will improve care and outcomes for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers by improving access to diagnosis, providing care planning services, and ensuring that a diagnosis is recorded in the medical record. All three members also have expressed support for the addition of $100 million for Alzheimer’s research in President Obama’s 2014 budget.

Thank you again to the offices of Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy as well as Congressman Peter Welch for their time meeting with us on Capitol Hill to speak about how to move these messages along. This disease looks more and more like a public health issue and needs your attention now. It will take a village to deal with it.

Susanne Shapiro, RN,

Executive Director, Valley Cares, Inc.,

Townshend, May 7