By Eva Veitch
Director, Community Living Services
A couple of months ago I found an email from Senators Gardner and Bennett in my spam email. I took a chance and opened the invitation to “Colorado at the Capital.” This event is co-sponsored by our Senators, CMU, and CU Boulder and is intended to better engage community leaders. I was intrigued by the invitation so I explored the website and decided to apply. After all, I have plenty to say about aging and disabilities, the re-authorization of the Older Americans Act, the lack of support for the Long Term Care Ombudsman program; and the list goes on. Maybe I could get someone to listen or at least make some valuable contacts for future crusades.
Much to my surprise, I made the cut and my agency supported the trip. I was off to Washington, DC June 8th. It was a jam packed agenda of high powered Washington politicians held at the Capital Building. I was joined in this experience by a wide variety of Coloradoans who were eager to learn what really happens in DC. We experienced first-hand what it actually takes to get a bill passed as Cory Gardner fought for a bill that has an economic impact on Colorado. It is a very slow-moving process, but we kept hearing that our Nation’s Founders designed it that way to ensure that decisions that impact all of us are well thought out, that there is always a “devil’s advocate” and several opportunities to ask why before ideas become law.
I am happy to say that Cory Gardner and Michael Bennett are both highly regarded by their peers at the Capital. Many of the speakers complimented “our guys” as people who really care about the issues and set a good example for working across the isle. I was impressed by the caliber of young people who intern at the Capital, there are many up and coming future politicians who are eager to make a difference. The political climate this year made for many interesting conversations and being right there in DC I found myself questioning some of my own opinions. It is good to hear all sides of the story before making your own conclusions.
Our group was dynamic and diverse with representatives from large and small business, educations, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, law and local government. We were all eager to see how things happen at the Capital and “our Colorado team on the hill” did not disappoint. Senators Gardner and Bennett work hard to represent us in our Nation’s Capital. In this year of extreme political turmoil; I was pleased to see people treating one another with respect and trying to make good decisions on our behalf. I am encouraged by the number of interested and engaged young people and overall hopeful. I was amazed that most of my fellow travelers had no idea about the Older Americans Act or how to access services for older adults; I educated anyone who would listen!
This country girl returned to Colorado tired but optimistic. I would encourage everyone to learn more and seek opportunities like this one to become more engaged in what goes on in our world.