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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Dear President Obama /  Editorial List

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Dear President Obama:

Congratulations on winning re-election to the highest office in the land. As you well know, our already divided nation was tested to its limits during this seemingly endless campaign season, which is mercifully behind us.

Mr. President, if I may be so bold as to make suggestions, I vehemently urge you to continue to pay attention to the needs of a huge and under-appreciated voting bloc, 66.7 million strong—the family caregivers.

Mr. President, the true burden of the American healthcare system has been unfairly placed squarely upon the shoulders of these healthcare heroes on a daily basis. If all family caregivers went on strike today, you would have to find over 450 billion dollars per year to replace the work they do for their loved ones—for no salary, with little support and at great risk to their own health and well-being.

Mr. President, the past few weeks have been, for me, a living example of the need for supporting our family caregivers across the spectrum. Hundreds of family caregivers joined together in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, for our 120th Fearless Caregiver Conference. As usual, there were caregivers dealing with every possible healthcare issue and, in fact, many of them are living with their own healthcare challenges. The next day, I was honored to keynote a Red Cross conference for Wounded Warrior spouses and parents (who are every bit as brave and fearless as the returning warriors for whom they care). Last week, hundreds of family caregivers braved the Nor’easter to join us in New Haven, Connecticut, to learn and share with one another.

Mr. President, I know you have much on your plate, but please do everything you can to ensure that these real healthcare heroes—civilian and military families alike—are able to receive all the support and comfort at your disposal.  It helps them be the best caregiver for their loved ones, and even has proven positive effect on our economy. Supporting family caregivers is not only the right thing to do, but also good policy.

Thank you for all the Administration on Aging is doing through the good work of Assistant Secretary Greenlee, and for the extra focus that the Veterans Administration has shown to wounded warrior caregivers over the past few years. 

Please understand, Mr. President,  that we as a nation stand behind you in these troubled times; but we also need you to stand behind us and our loved ones. We will be watching you and the incoming Congress as the future of Medicare, Social Security and funding levels for the National Family Caregiver Support Act are being decided, and we will be sharing our feelings and findings with our fellow caregivers.


Gary Barg

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