Earlier this week, BIAV attended Brain Injury Awareness Day in Washington DC. As part of Brain Injury Awareness Month, advocates gather on Capitol Hill to talk to their elected officials about the need for more services and supports for persons with brain injury. It’s an exciting day, filled with people who are passionate and share the same goals of improving life for those impacted by brain injury.
For some people, the idea of talking to a legislator is intimidating or seems pointless. After being an advocate for brain injury for many years, I can tell you these three things:
One person can create real change. Most people who go into public service are interested in stories that help them understand, and some of the most effective changemakers for brain injury are legislators who heard someone’s story and felt compelled to make things better. Every bit of the more than $5 million in state funding Virginia has designated for community based brain supports and services started with one “regular person” asking for help.
Sending an email or writing a letter to a legislator isn’t really hard…or scary. I’ve never known one to be rude to someone who took the time to tell them what they think, and telling them what you think is how they do their jobs. When it seems hard or scary, I take a deep breath, remind myself they work for me, and tell myself there’s no way we’re going to get what we want if we don’t ask for it.
Good things come to those who wait. In an age where we are able to get what we want when we want it, we’ve become less patient with things that take sustained effort. When we are fighting to raise awareness and understanding of brain injury, it can sometime feel like an uphill battle, and that nobody cares. But when a message is finally heard and something is done, it is an unbelievable feeling.