Dan Press, retired Washington, DC lawyer and member of the national non-profit, all-volunteer group called CTIPP – the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice has been walking the halls of Congress for the last several years, advocating for trauma awareness in every office regardless of political party. Dan has doggedly tried to get Congressmen and Congresswomen to learn about unresolved trauma and the ACEs research and to appreciate how trauma impacts virtually every aspect of a huge percentage of the children and adults in this country. He said for years he was met with blank stares or worse, flat-out denial that trauma was anything Congress needed to know about.
That has rather dramatically changed. We have come to understand that unresolved trauma may be the single most under-appreciated and most significant public health issue this nation faces. Through the patient dedication of the members of CTIPP and dozens of organizations all across the country, Dan says now when he meets with folks from Congress and their staff they are much more aware. They often now know about the ACEs research and are more receptive to discussions about how to use this research to address the terrible consequences of unresolved trauma.
Baltimore Congressman Elijah Cummings is one of the biggest advocates for making trauma-awareness a national issue. He is chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. He recently convened a hearing to move things forward in Congress to promote this issue, including discussing ways to use the research to address the ACEs crisis.
On July 15, 2019, ACEs Connection published an excellent article that describes the hearing. Written by Elizabeth Prewitt, who is on the ACEs Connection staff and also a Board member of CTIPP, the article captures some of the passionate spirit of the hearing
She describes some of the hearing, noting “… childhood trauma is “one of the most consequential and costly public health issues facing our nation today. The science is powerful.”
And this, “ …damage can be healed, and children can become thriving and productive adults. He called for a robust approach to address the problem, signaling his intention to draft comprehensive legislation.”
She highlights how individual members of Congress responded to the testimonials and expert information shared by two panels that captured much of the essence of the power trauma has had to deeply wound so many children and adults.
CEO of Lakeside, Gerry Vassar, and I had the privilege of attending the hearing and seeing firsthand this amazing process of galvanizing a large number of Congressmen and Congresswomen around the need to address trauma in our national political conversations. There truly was a nonpartisan spirit in the room, with virtually every participant in the discussion agreeing with all that was being presented, with no political barbs or attacks” “across the aisle.
There was a unified voice to address the many issues unresolved trauma creates. It was palpable! It was powerful! And it filled the hearts of everyone with a sense of purpose, determination and hope. Gerry and I came away relishing these responses, feeling hopeful that change is possible. It is wonderful when people work so hard to make their voices heard around the subject that is so important for the future of our nation and the lives of so many, including our children. Thank you, Dan for your constant efforts to bring the knowledge of trauma and its effects to our national discussions!
After the hearing, we had the awesome opportunity to meet with Dan and representatives from Senator Casey and Senator Toomey’s offices to add yet another voice to the need for trauma-informed approaches all across the country. We at Lakeside Global Institute are especially focused on helping Pennsylvania become a trauma-informed state, using our 14+ years of developing trauma curriculum that is already being used all across the state.
I hope you will consider adding your voice to these efforts by calling or writing to your local Congressman or Congresswomen, encouraging them to get behind the efforts of Congressman Cummings. There is a plethora of information on the ACEs Connection and CTIPP sites and also on our Lakeside Global website where you can learn about our trauma training.
Invitation to Reflect
- Think about how important it is that Congress gets behind the movement to raise awareness around the impact and pervasiveness of trauma all across this country. How does it make you feel to know that there now excits movement in Congress to acknowledge and affirm the work that needs to be done to promote trauma-awareness?
- What can you do personally to join this movement to raise trauma-awareness in your community? Maybe you can call or go online to the website of local representatives and state your enthusiasm for their promoting the efforts described in the house hearing. Get your children involved. Help them to learn how government can work in healthy ways through uniting over something as important as raising awareness around the subject of trauma.