The 112th Congress officially ended on January 3, 2013, when members of the 113th Congress were sworn into office. The 112th Congress was a monumental session for functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders. It saw the first fiscal year in which funds were dedicated specifically for Gulf War Illness research, which includes functional gastrointestinal disorders, through the Department of Defense, as well as the introduction in the House of Representatives of The Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act, the first ever federal research bill focused on functional GI and motility disorders (FGIMDs).
During this time over 1,000 people took action as advocates for digestive health. They reached out from across the United States to hundreds of members of Congress who vote on funding for research about the importance of FGIMDs. Behind every one of these people is a story.
Some people attended DHA Advocacy Days in Washington DC and shared their own stories with Congress in person of life with a functional GI or motility disorder. Brian travelled from Wisconsin to advocate on behalf veterans. He shared his experience of returning from service in Iraq with cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS), highlighting the lack of awareness and need for education about FGIDs in the community, both among people afflicted and health care providers. Hollie made the trip from Ohio to help Congress understand the day-to-day impact of gastroparesis, and Reneé traveled from Florida to describe the challenges of living with IBS and GERD.
Other digestive health advocates, like Pamela, were unable to travel, but did not let that stop them from speaking out. Pamela was too weak to attend DHA Advocacy Day in June 2012. She emailed her Representative, “Your voice will make a difference in Washington on my behalf.”
Whether recently diagnosed, like Bret who developed gastrointestinal symptoms after his deployment to the Gulf War region, or someone who has dealt with their condition for many years, like Lisbeth, a “mother of 3 kids” who has “had Achalasia for over ten years,” each personal story shared is a heartfelt plea for Congress to take action.
Other advocates were inspired to speak by someone close to them affected by a FGIMD. At 18 months old, young Sophia suffers pseudo-obstruction. Hundreds of her friends and family wrote postcards imploring Congress to “please help us get the answers she deserves.”
The Digestive Health Alliance is made up of all kinds of people with a common interest in functional GI and motility disorders. In the new 113th Congress DHA advocates will seek re-introduction of The Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act. In addition, we will continue to seek Congressional funding for research at the National Institutes of Health, and for the Gulf War Illness Research Program.
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