Posted by: BPSOS | October 9, 2008

BPSOS Specialist Urges Congress to Act on Senior Issues in Capitol Hill Meeting

October 9, 2008: Funding for programs for older Americans was the focus of meetings with members of Congress during Boat People SOS senior services specialist Xuan Le’s meetings in Washington, DC on September 23.

Part of “Advocacy Day” sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), Le joined other senior advocates from around the country for morning briefings by congressional staff and policy experts on funding for senior programs and long-term services and supports proposals. The briefing also included discussion of the Elder Justice Act, the Charitable Mileage Reimbursement Bill, and Older Worker legislation.

“With the rapidly growing senior population, it is critical that we make our voices heard on Capitol Hill, more than ever, securing the future of programs that provide critical services to seniors across the country must be a priority for those of us who work with older people,” Le said. “We brought that message loud and clear.”

Le brought to the table the perspective of BPSOS’ health and mental health department, which serves the community of thousands of Vietnamese seniors in the greater Washington, DC area, particularly in northern Virginia. The department has for years provided counseling, classes, and direct services to this population, which is particularly vulnerable to isolation because of linguistic and cultural barriers.

In the afternoon, participants brought a local perspective on aging issues to meetings in the offices of their senators and representatives, with a focus on how the rapidly rising costs of fuel, food, housing, heating and other necessities is straining programs that serve seniors. They discussed how experienced professionals and volunteers running time-tested programs that help seniors remain healthy, independent, and in their own homes, are facing difficult decisions about how to keep providing needed services.

Capitol Hill Day is part of NCOA’s efforts to keep members of Congress aware of the programs that are critical for vulnerable older Americans. NCOA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of seniors nationwide are ongoing, and BPSOS joins this network to voice the issues and concerns of the Vietnamese-American community.

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