National Call to Commitment Day Moves Forward with Renewed Hope
Week of October 1st a Time to Show Our Strength Through Unity, Our Communities Must Join Together to Make Our Voices Heard!
September 28, 2001
The terrorist attacks on September 11th affected all of us greatly and left everyone with a range of difficult emotions. It has not been "business as usual" since the 11th for anyone, including HIV/AIDS advocates, who typically spend September and October in the middle of appropriations battles, working hard to ensure that Congress approves the highest possible funding levels for critical HIV/AIDS programs.
Our work, like that of so many others, has been made very difficult by recent events. The political climate in Washington has changed dramatically and strong bipartisan attention is appropriately focused on responding to the attacks. However, as we all know, the needs of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS continue to be pressing, and Congress will still be acting on appropriations bills that will impact care, treatment, research, housing, and prevention programs and services that greatly affect people living with HIV and those at risk for HIV infection. While respecting the importance of crafting a response to terrorism and providing for the urgent needs of those directly affected by the September 11th attacks, AIDS advocates must also help our elected representatives remember the importance of the fight against AIDS, as they establish funding levels for the upcoming Fiscal Year (October 1, 2001-September 30, 2002).
Before September 11th, a group of organizations and individuals, led by the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA), planned a "National Call to Commitment Day." To be held on October 1st, this event would be a national day of grassroots action in which individuals across the country would call their U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators and urge them to support the highest possible funding increases for all HIV/AIDS programs. The goal of this action was twofold: first, to have one targeted day in which members of Congress hear from their constituents about the continued importance of strong leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS; and second, to ensure that those who are most impacted by HIV and AIDS are part of the solution by communicating with our elected representatives -- who can't address our needs if we don't let them know what they are.
Following the terrorist attacks, the planning group put our original plans on hold and looked for ways to organize action that would be both effective and appropriate. After much discussion and input from Congressional staffers, we agreed that it was important and appropriate to move ahead with action in support of increased federal AIDS funding, while being mindful of Congress' focus on the recent attacks. This is especially true since Congressional subcommittees will start "marking up" (voting on funding levels for) HIV/AIDS programs very soon.
Therefore, we urge you to set aside a few minutes during the week of October 1st to call your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators, and urge them to support the highest possible funding for HIV/AIDS programs. We recognize that some people may not be able to call on Monday, although it is the preferred date. Your calls on any day of that week will make a significant difference. We also encourage you to thank your members of Congress for their strong bipartisan efforts to deal with the difficult business of responding to the attacks and supporting those who lost so much on September 11th. You may want to combine all of these messages in your phone call, or you may want to just talk about HIV/AIDS funding -- whatever you choose is entirely appropriate. Whether you leave a message of compassion and support with Congressional staff in DC regarding the events of September 11, or leave a message that focuses entirely on AIDS funding, you will be helping our nation get back to business and to heal.
To help your action on October 1, we are including some language to help you craft your message. However, the most important thing is that your representatives know that their leadership is important to addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis and that his or her actions affect you. While typical Action Alerts encourage you to call in support of specific dollar amounts and provide detailed messages for you to share with Congress, right now the most appropriate message to deliver is a simple one: there is still great need by people living with HIV/AIDS and we need Congress' help and leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Sample Language for Phone Calls
"I am calling to thank Representative/Senator__________ for his/her leadership and hard work responding to the terrorist attacks on September 11th. Your office has my support and best wishes as you deal with the aftermath of these events.
"I am also calling as a person greatly affected by HIV/AIDS. I hope that Representative/Senator___________ will do everything in his/her own power to ensure the highest possible increases for all domestic and international HIV/AIDS programs. We need the continued support and leadership of Congress to help fight this epidemic."
Additional informational materials, including Talking Points and detailed program and funding information are available at http://www.napwa.org/call_to_commit.htm.
For additional information or for assistance, please contact Jean-Michel Brevelle, Associate Director for Policy at (202) 898-0414 ext. 124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you require further information, please contact Javier G. Salazar, Federal Affairs Manager in the Government Relations and Public Policy Division at email@example.com.
This article was provided by National Minority AIDS Council. Visit NMAC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.