US Holocaust survivors to receive federal funds

"We must do all we can to honor their struggles, lives," says congresswoman; would make survivors eligible for special programs.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER, JPOST CORRESPONDENT
August 5, 2011 05:21
2 minute read.
numbers on an arm

holocaust hand 311. (photo credit: courtesy)

 
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Holocaust survivors in the US will receive federal funds designed to help them age at home, rather than having to move to an institution, according to a new congressional bill drafted by Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

The bipartisan proposal calls for survivors to be added to a list of elderly citizens receiving preferred treatment under the Older Americans Act, to designate an individual within the Administration on Aging to overlook programs offered to survivors and create a grant program helping them with their transportation needs.

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“As a nation that upholds the values of freedom, liberty and justice, we have a moral obligation to acknowledge the plight and uphold the dignity of Holocaust survivors to ensure their well-being,” said Wasserman Schultz.

“Our children’s generation will be the last to know Holocaust survivors and hear their stories firsthand. We must do all we can to honor their struggles and their lives by improving their access to transportation to get them where they need to go, and improve their home-care options so that they can have peace of mind. This bill does just that, and it’s time to make it happen.”

Ros-Lehtinen said survivors of Nazi persecution deserve to be honored in their old age.

“The sad reality is that every day, we have fewer Holocaust survivors among us to tell their tragic tales that remind us of the reality of evil,” she said in an email.

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“Many of these survivors have pressing medical and housing needs and this bill seeks to address those gaping holes in social services.”

The Jewish Federations of North America on Wednesday took credit for helping create the bill, saying it was the result of a series of meetings it arranged between the lawmakers, and Holocaust survivors and social workers.

“We thank Reps. Wasserman Schultz and Ros-Lehtinen for introducing this bill, which takes the necessary step of recognizing and addressing the unique situation of Holocaust survivors who have contributed greatly to this country since the Second World War,” said Cheryl Fishbein, chairwoman of the Federations’ America Domestic Affairs Cabinet.

“When passed, this bill will provide the support local agencies need to ensure that survivors are able to live their lives with comfort, security and dignity.”

There are some 127,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States today, the Federations said in a press release.

About 75 percent of those are over the age of 75 and about two-thirds live alone.
Many of these survivors struggle to make ends meet, and are in poor health.

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