On April 25 and 26, the Amputee Coalition hosted Hill Days as part of Limb Loss Awareness Month. With more than 80 attendees and nearly 100 meetings with legislators and staff, the event was empowering and powerful.
For many, this was the first time to come to Capitol Hill to visit legislators in person. An afternoon of preparation and training on Tuesday April 25 was followed by a day filled with meetings with senators and representatives across the Hill. Staffers were cordial and supportive, listening intently to the issues impacting the community, and took the time to help people with limb loss take the direct route to their next meeting, even if it involved traveling through the tunnels under the Hill.
“As a peer visitor, I have seen many people not receive the arm or leg they need to return to work,” said Dave Dunville, an active Amputee Coalition volunteer. “Getting a chance to even spend 10 minutes with my Senator, Gary Peters of Michigan, was well worth it. Even now, I am working on getting one-on-one meetings when they are here in Michigan.”
“Meeting with the legislators who represent me is always a privilege,” said Jack Richmond, amputee and president & CEO of the Amputee Coalition. “In my new role, I feel even more accountability to ensure that the voice of the limb loss community is heard. Wherever they live, whatever kind of limb difference they have, we are gathering to speak up for ourselves and speak out for others.”
Several attendees were in manual and motorized wheelchairs, and many wore shorts or skirts that showed their mettle (and their metal).
“I never thought that one person, one voice, could make a difference. But after having been to visit my representatives and senators a couple of times now, they are always so intent and genuine when listening to my message,” said Denise Hoffman, an attendee from Missouri. “I encourage everyone, if at all possible, to reach out to their legislators, even through a letter or email. The more stories they hear from us, the more likely a change can take place.”
As the best-attended Hill Days for the Amputee Coalition, the activities will continue beyond the meetings, with follow-up around introduction of the Insurance Fairness for Amputees Act, co-sponsorship and passage of the Local Coverage Determination Clarification Act, and education about the importance of funding for research and programs that directly affect people living with limb loss and limb difference.
For more information, visit amputee-coalition.org.