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by Jamie Bearse   |   August 24, 2020

Dear Colleague: Protect Our Protectors

ZERO CEO Jamie Bearse with Congressman Neal Dunn.

In a normal year, members of Congress would currently be enjoying their summer recess. But as we’ve all seen, 2020 has been anything but a normal year.

In the midst of all the competing, pressing issues impacting society and, especially, vulnerable prostate cancer patients we can’t forget about one very important group – our military heroes.

Many of the brave individuals who have served our country are at an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer. In fact, there are nearly half a million veterans in the Veterans Health Administration (VA) system who are fighting prostate cancer. We must protect our nation’s protectors from this disease by creating new programs that will create comprehensive and effective patient pathways at VA health facilities. But the only way we can make it happen is if your Representative hears directly from you.

Thankfully, two members of Congress have already taken action on this important issue. Congressman Neal Dunn (FL-R), a urologist by training, and Congressman Joe Cunningham (SC-D), a member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, recently introduced the Veteran’s Prostate Cancer Research and Treatment Act. This proposed legislation would establish a national clinical pathway for prostate cancer, a standardized system of care for the treatment of what is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the veterans’ health system.

In order to help rally support for this important issue, and to ultimately help the bill get passed, I’m asking YOU and all prostate cancer advocates to ask their officials to sign on to the “Dear Colleague” letter. 

“Dear Colleague” letters are sent by one member of a congressional body to all other members. These letters share the importance of a new bill and ask for cosponsors, signatories, or seek to influence votes on an issue.

It may feel like that in these trying times, there’s nothing you can do to make a difference. But that is not true! In fact, your legislators especially want to hear from you right now. They want to know what causes you care deeply about and are fighting for, especially  during this  global pandemic. 

So here’s what you can do, in five easy steps!

  1. Call your member in the House of Representatives to share your passion and concern for the half a million veterans fighting prostate cancer. Find their office number here.
  2. Tweet at your representative and be sure to use the hashtag #EndProstateCancer. Get their Twitter handle here
  3. Reach out to your representative and urge them to cosponsor the Veteran’s Prostate Cancer Research and Treatment Act via email by filling out this simple form
  4. Send snail mail! Personal, handwritten letters from constituents are effective in communicating concerns. You can send a letter to either their D.C. office or their district office. Head to your rep’s page to get their mailing address.
  5. Lastly, ask your friends and family to do the same! Together, we can all show our support to these amazing, brave men.

My friend Mike Crosby, a U.S. Navy veteran and prostate cancer patient, shared the importance of this bill and its timeliness with me: “During a time of pandemic, it’s more important than ever to protect our protectors. ZERO’s patient programs are here to serve all Vets and men, with prostate cancer who have been impacted by COVID-19.”

Even during COVID-19, we are not giving up on our advocacy priorities. Stay tuned for more ways you can engage with your members of Congress and help us raise awareness for Veterans impacted by this awful disease. Read a statement I presented before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in support of H.R. 6092. For more on ZERO’s efforts in protecting our protectors, visit zerocancer.org/veterans