When I began my mission to bring the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit to national attention 3 years ago, I honestly thought it would be a pretty easy thing to do. I naively thought that if I simply sent out tons of emails and letters to all major media outlets they would have responded with “How quick can we get this story out there”?
“Millions missing out on up to $22,000 annually in tax-free money to offset the costs of care – Put it on the front page of every newspaper, broadcast it on the morning and evening news, and put it on the airwaves. Thanks for the tip we’ll get right on this!”
That train of thought would be more like something out of a fairytale, and is not the way it went down.
Obviously I went for the big guns first thinking they would be the best bet. That thought fits into the first part of the fairytale, so I then started shooting for the folks who maybe needed a rating’s boost and would be thrilled to lead with the story – Chapter two of the fairytale.
I have been asked the question hundreds of times “Who all have you contacted trying to get the word out”? Just to give you an idea of what lengths I have gone to with little to no response, here is a short list in no particular order of folks I have told how crucial the Aid and Attendance pension is and the difference it can make. It is a rather impressive list of those who chose to do nothing with the information and did not find it newsworthy.
Many of these folks have been contacted several times in hope they would be more receptive or reconsider – Part three of the fairytale.
AARP (this was a no brainer or so I thought) No takers here.
Former VA Secretary James Nicholson
Senator John McCain
Senator John Warner
NBC Nightly News – some success with Trading Places segment
Face the Nation
Meet the Press
Geraldo – wild card – generally will take on offbeat subject matter – Nope
Leslie Stahl – I watched Leslie do a piece on kangaroos instead
Joni Evans – wowowow.com
NY Times – actually had someone who needed the benefit but no story ran
Katie Couric – Free Speech – wrote and called
Lynn Doyle – It’s Your Call
Dana Priest – Washington Post
Every major and minor radio talk show outlet
National Public Radio
The Whitehouse Project
Read over this list again and let it really sink in what each one of these names represents individually let alone collectively. Keep in mind that this is just the heavy hitters and no where near the total number of individuals and organizations contacted
I think it is fair to say that most names on this list won’t ever have to wonder how they are going to be able to afford to take care of their family member.
How many stories do you think come across their desks that represent an opportunity to make a difference for millions? To change lives for the better? To give someone their dignity later in life when they are frail and less able to do for their self? To help lessen a financial burden placed on family members, and to be able to afford a better quality of care.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being shocked that no one felt they had an obligation either morally or otherwise to step up accordingly given their positions and platforms. But the question that really begs to be answered is “why”?
I’d welcome anyone of them to enlighten me to that answer and to get their name off this list.