Legislation Introduced to Support Aging Holocaust Survivors

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WASHINGTON – On June 28, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and original cosponsor Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) introduced legislation to help aging Holocaust survivors. 

The Responding to Urgent needs of Survivors of the Holocaust (RUSH) Act (S. 3358) would provide support for the tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors living near poverty in the U.S. The legislation builds on the goals outlined in a Congressional resolution (H. Con. Res. 323) that passed in the House of Representatives in 2010.

“As this special community ages, we must ensure their dignity by empowering them to live as independently as possible, in peace and safety,” said Kathy Manning, chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America. “This important legislation would boost collective efforts to protect these courageous survivors.”

Aging Holocaust survivors have needs similar to those of other older Americans. However, the consequences of premature or unnecessary institutionalization can be more severe for these survivors. For the survivor population, this type of care can reintroduce the loss of privacy, autonomy and control into their lives. The sights, sounds, smells or practices of institutionalization, such as showers, can trigger residual psychological effects from the Holocaust. The RUSH Act can help survivors remain in their homes for as long as possible.

 If passed, the RUSH Act would amend the existing Older Americans Act in the following key ways:

·Add Holocaust survivors to the list of groups that receive preference for services under the Older Americans Act;

 ·Designate a person within the Administration for Community Living to have responsibility for implementing services to Holocaust survivors; and,

·Establish a grant program for nonprofit organizations to increase and improve transportation services for Holocaust survivors.

Of the approximately 127,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States today, three-quarters are over the age of 75 and about two-thirds live alone. Many struggle to afford basic needs such as food and healthcare; more than half of the survivors arriving in the U.S. after 1967 from the former Soviet Union fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, meaning they earn less than $21,660 annually.

In addition to vital support services, the legislation would amend the nutrition section of the Older Americans Act to provide meals that meet dietary requirements based on religious, cultural or ethnic requirements.

 

Last modified on Friday, June 29, 2012 - 18:43

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