An interview with Robert Blancato, National Coordinator by Brian Lindberg, Public Policy Director, Elder Justice Coalition

 

Brian:

You are known for being a passionate advocate—on the Hill, and nationwide. What fuels you?

Bob:

Advocacy is about causes, and this particular cause is as important as any I have been involved in. We are woefully behind where we should be in the fight against elder abuse, and for that to improve, it will take continued advocacy to affect real and lasting change.

Brian:

What is the essence of the Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act?

Bob:

If enacted by Congress, the Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act will mandate the U.S. Postal Service to create, promote, and sell a semi-postal—fund raising—stamp. The proceeds will provide an increase in funding for elder abuse programs in both the U.S. Department of Justice and Health, and the Administration for Community Living in the U.S. Department Human Services.

Brian:

Why did the Elder Justice Coalition decide to take the lead in advocating for passage of the Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act?

Bob:

It is a good bill that is very much needed. Inadequate funding is a real problem in the effort to prevent elder abuse. The Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act would potentially provide a new infusion of funds, not subject to Congressional approval, that would enhance and expand existing programs in DOJ and HHS. Also, the potential of raising public awareness about elder abuse and moving people toward taking their own individual actions to help is another benefit of this bill.

Like other semi-postal stamp “campaigns,” this one has been championed by several individuals: First, by Helen Karr starting in 2000, and by others who followed in her footsteps, including Philip Marshall, who has made this his personal passion. In his own words, it has given him “A way of coping with [his] grandmother’s abuse by his father, so other people do not have to go through a similar ordeal.”

Brian:

What makes now a good time to enact the bill?

Bob:

We need to enact all bills that are purposely designed to promote elder justice by preventing elder abuse. This one in particular because of its potential to provide new and needed funds. It would complement earlier bills that have passed such as the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (introduced by Senator Grassley and Senator Blumenthal), the Senior Safe Act (introduced by Senator Collins). Also, it might aid in the passage of a new Elder Justice Act.

Brian:

If the stamp is issued, who will you write to when you buy your first sheet?

Bob:

Susan Collins, Peter King, and all co-sponsors; and if there are still some stamps left—I’ll write to the leadership of the Elder Justice Coalition to urge them to buy their own sheets of this important stamp.

Brian:

For now, what is your message to voters, countrywide?

Bob:

We must make elder abuse a real political issue in 2020—reward those who are helping in the fight and call out those who are not using local media outlets to make people aware of not just the problem, but of the solutions that are available.

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The Elder Justice Coalition is the lead organization advocating for enactment of Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act. The Coalition is a national organization dedicated to promoting elder justice in America. The Coalition works to fulfill its mission through education, advocacy, and support of federal initiatives to address the growing crisis of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.