If Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) gets his way, life could become a little bit easier for Holocaust survivors.
On May 21, Sen. Cardin, along with co-sponsors Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), introduced a bill to assist survivors. The Responding to Urgent Needs of Holocaust Survivors Act, or RUSH Act, would add Holocaust survivors to those groups that receive priority in social services through the Older Americans Act.
“This legislation ensures that the services and care they need are available to help them to live independent lives,” said Sen. Mikulski in a statement.
“This is a matter of providing an extra layer of dignity as well ,” said Sen. Cardin. “It’s vital that we do all we can to allow [the survivors] to continue to share their stories with younger generations so that we can avoid something so horrible from ever happening again.”
Of the approximately 120,000 Holocaust survivors in the United States, nearly two-thirds live at home, many below the poverty level.
“I don’t want to be put in a home,” said survivor Edith Cord emphatically.
Cord is an acclaimed writer and public speaker with experience as a language professor and a financial adviser. She was born in Vienna and lost her father and brother in the Holocaust.
“We [survivors] need our independence; we don’t like being told what to do,” she said.
The RUSH Act would establish a point person within the Administration for Community Living, a subdivision of Department of Health and Human Services, to have responsibility for programs serving Holocaust survivors. It would
authorize transportation services to be funded through the Older Americans Act and ensure that nutrition services include observance of religious, ethnic and dietary food restrictions.
“Most of us need a little help when we get older,” said Cord. “Ideally, we should all be given this support and be able to stay in our homes. I’m a little uncomfortable about being singled out, or any group being singled out, [for priority services]. Butit would be nice to get some considerations for our needs.”