I have only posted twice in this month for a simple reason – politicians, including political candidates, largely ignore the disabled vote while speaking and/or campaigning. A blog entry on the Huffington Post site explains it well, and though this article is from last year, the statements stay true and relevant. The number of disabled Americans is unfortunately large and continues to increase. Clinton’s lead in the polls is small. True, “[in the 2012 President election}, the voter turnout rate of people with disabilities was 5.7 percentage points lower than that of people without disabilities.” However, that means that 15.6% of disabled Americans did vote. This year, the number of disabled voters will likely vastly increase, just as it will for the generally population. Ultimately, the disabled vote could make the difference in who becomes the next Commander-in-Chief of the United States.
(Note: This article was previously entitled, “She Walks, She Talks AND She Has Opinions”. I now understand that this title could be seen as offensive to disabled people. However, I did not intend it to be offensive.)
Last week, Americans, including all TBI survivors, saw something remarkable from former Arizona Congresswoman and TBI survivor Gabby Giffords. Specifically, the women who had to relearn how to walk and talk just a few years ago walked herself to the podium and spoke to the country at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA. During her speech, Giffords spoke of her support for Hillary Clinton and her proposed gun laws. Beyond her speech though, Giffords said something that I think is an important, but often overlooked positive effect of something as horrific as a brain injury: “I have a passion for helping people [now]”. (These words demonstrate her choice to favor action versus pity. Given that, it would be nice if the press focused on her speech and her ideas, not the fact that she walked alone.)
Last Wednesday, at the Democratic National Convention, former President Bill Clinton spoke, explaining why he believes his wife, Hillary Clinton, is the best candidate to lead this country for the next 4 years. He spoke of their courtship, their time as new parents, her time as a Senator, etc. Bill’s speech was long, many say too long, but interesting. Of particular interest was Bill’s statement that, “she worked for more extensive care for people with traumatic brain injury.”
Mr. Clinton’s statement came right after he discussed Hillary’s time on the Armed Services Committee. Because of her time on the Committee, many of the TBI-related pieces of legislation she sponsored were directed to those in Service. For example, she sponsored the Heroes at Home Act of 2007 (S.1065) which “directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a program on training and certification of family caregivers of veterans and member with traumatic brain injury”. However, the TBI-related legislation that she co-sponsored was not necessarily directed solely towards the troops. As an example, the Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 2008, which includes 6 Sections, “authorizes the Secretary, acting through the Director of CDC, to conduct a study to (1) determine the incidence of traumatic brain injury and prevalence of traumatic brain injury related disability; (2) report national trends in traumatic brain injury; (3) identify common therapeutic interventions which are used for the rehabilitation of individuals with such injuries; (4) identify interventions and therapies that can prevent or re-mediate the development of secondary neurologic conditions related to traumatic brain injury; and (5) develop practice guidelines for such rehabilitation”.
Given that former President Clinton stated that Clinton worked tirelessly for those suffering from traumatic brain injury, one would think her efforts would be more evident. However, legislation review seems to show that former President Clinton’s statement is correct. It is those who suffer from traumatic brain injury and their caregivers to decide if public knowledge of legislation or the legislation itself is of more import.