I feel broken-hearted by the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, her staff and the many other people who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. We send our love to the families and loved ones of those who died. There are so many shades of this story that make it distressing, yet the one I want to address is the current popular trend to vilify our politicians.
As someone who has worked with hundreds of policy makers over the years, I can say that they are just like you and me. Every morning they get up, brush their teeth, comb their hair, eat breakfast, kiss those they love and go to work with the goal of doing a good job. Perhaps there are times when one politician's ideas of what is a good job may be different from yours and mine. Yet that makes them different not the enemy.
Working with the EDC over the last 10 years, I witnessed many moments where families came to Washington DC for our lobby days, met with a Member of Congress and that Member of Congress took their hand, thanked them for coming, let them know their story really mattered and in turn supported our policy efforts. There were times when Members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican, cried with parents who lost their children to eating disorders or rejoiced in a young person's recovery . These politicians and their staff, have hearts that break just like you and me.
Policy makers are in some cases our adversaries yet they are also our friends, our allies, our leaders, and even our heroes. The EDC is grateful for our champions over the years: Congressmen Kennedy and Ramstad and Senators Wellstone, Domenici and Kennedy for their undying leadership in eliminating stigma towards people with mental illness and passing mental health parity; Congressman Kennedy for introducing the first ever comprehensive eating disorders bill in the history of Congress, the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act; Senator Harkin for introducing the companion bill in the Senate. Congresswoman Baldwin who is introducing the FREED Act this session. Our many allies who sponsored briefings, added their names to the FREED Act and promoted other legislation that addresses eating disorders. Below is a list that is not exhaustive but begins to show how many politicians the EDC has as allies and champions. We thank them all!
All of you who care about eating disorders - let's come together this next lobby day in the hundreds (tentative date is April 12th - stay tuned for exact date and details) - not only to reach our primary goal of passing legislation that will make an enormous difference in the lives of people affected by eating disorders - but also to let our Members of Congress know that we appreciate their hard work and efforts. We support their dedication to public service. It is with them that we will achieve the goals of making treatment accessible to all those suffering from eating disorders, better understand eating disorders etiology, prevention and treatment, and prevent eating disorders through awareness and training of health professionals. The politicians and advocates are on the same team. Let's respond to this painful event - not by being scared into silence but by coming to Washington DC in droves.