Our Interview With US Senator Tammy Baldwin


Discussing Senator Baldwin’s VA Reform – Addressing the Opioid Crisis & Pain Care for Veterans.  

Rise & Grind Recovery Radio E9 Snapshot: This week, we sat down with Senator Baldwin to discuss her very important efforts to address the opioid crisis & pain care for veterans.  We also discussed the support for CARA, the need for more funding, and the high importance of prevention. We walked away with a strong call for advocacy & action where Tammy wants to hear your story. More info below:

Over the past year, US Senator Tammy Baldwin has been introducing legislation to help fight against the addiction epidemic. With overdoses at a record high level, Baldwin is working hard with families, numerous advocates, lawmakers, and a variety of professionals to implement prevention, treatment and recovery support efforts that would help save lives.

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Legislation like the Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act, for example, has focused on implementing regular trainings for first responders and health care professionals to further their ability to diagnose addiction.  Earlier this year, she even announced the $1.7 million that was awarded to community health centers in Wisconsin to expand addiction services like assisted medicated treatment; also known as MAT.  With further efforts to increase funding that would support prevention, expand access to treatment, further addiction research, and support life-long recovery; Baldwin isn’t stopping there and that’s why we invited her on Rise & Grind Recovery Radio.

Insider Notes:

At the end of November 2016, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) lead a roundtable dialogue titled “Realizing the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act” to address the opioid crisis and quality pain care for veterans; signed into law in July as a part of CARA -the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

Jason Simcakoski, for whom the bill was named, was a Marine Corps veteran from Stevens Point that died at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center as a result of mixed drug toxicity in August 2014.

Senator Baldwin worked closely with Jason’s family as well as medical professionals and veteran’s service organizations to craft the legislation.

During the roundtable, Senator Baldwin and Representative Bilrakis were joined by members of the Simcakoski family, as well as officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), The American Legion, American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

Watch the LIVE Roundtable: Realizing the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act

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Key Topics of Discussion:

  • Veterans are facing physical injuries and pain, scars of combat, PTSD, mental illness and addiction. Recent efforts and hard work, your office was able to move the bipartisan VA reforms through congress where it was signed, at the time, by President Barack Obama. Can you tell me more about the importance of the roundtable efforts that you put together?
  • Can you give us an idea of how you have faced addiction in Wisconsin and beyond?
  • What is the correlation & efforts with CARA?
  • How is your office helping to unite communities to face America’s health crisis?
  • How can people take action & get involved?

In this episode you will hear the VA’s progress in addressing opioid prescribing practices, the critical health care needs of veterans that Congress should focus on in the upcoming year, and how to realize the goals of Jason’s law which are:

  • Access to high-quality care
  • More effective pain management services for our nation’s veterans
  • Improved patient advocacy to give veterans and their families a stronger voice in their care
  • Enhanced hiring practices at the VA to ensure that the best health care providers are treating our veterans.

Episode Call to Action:

SHARE YOUR STORY with us and speak about the issues you most care about. When #WeAllRiseTogether we make a huge difference throughout the world!

Want to get even more involved?

Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate voted on the 21st Century Cures Act.  The 21st Century Cures Act has many important provisions that expand our response to addiction, including $1 billion dollars in approved grant funding! As huge as this is, we need your help to continue the momentum.

There are concerns that some of the key elements of the comprehensive response, like prevention & recovery support services, won’t get the funding that it needs. It is critical that prevention & recovery support services also receive federal money and attention that it deserves.

Speak Out to Change Policy

By sharing your voice we can help to urge Congress to communicate with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) who are administering these dollars to ensure that funds are dedicated to prevention & recovery support services, which is consistent with the framework and intent of CARA.
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