Did you know that the U.S. government has the power to allocate funding for research and awareness efforts for vitiligo? Not only that, but if you are a U.S. citizen, you have the opportunity to ask the U.S. government to set aside that funding.
The Relationship between You, the U.S. Government, and Vitiligo
Let’s review how the U.S. government works. Our federal government consists of three branches – the executive branch represented by the president, the judiciary branch represented by the Supreme Court and the legislative branch represented by Congress. The U.S. Congress consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate and is responsible for passing laws and originating spending bills, along with other things. So what does that mean for vitiligo? Congress provides all the funding for the National Institute of Health (NIH), which supports health care research including that for vitiligo. Also Congress can direct funding to individual universities, nonprofits and organizations that support vitiligo.
Now here’s where you come in. Each citizen has one elected official in the U.S. House of Representatives and two elected officials in the U.S. Senate. This means that you, as a U.S. citizen, have three people representing you in the U.S. government. As elected officials, they work for you and are your represented voice in the government. However, they can’t accurately represent you if they don’t know what you want or what you need. And that’s brings us to your role as a U.S. citizen. You have the responsibility to inform your representatives of what you want from the U.S. government.
As someone with vitiligo or as a supporter of the vitiligo community, you have a vested interest in the U.S. government allocating funding towards vitiligo awareness and research efforts. The government’s decision to allocate or not allocate funds to vitiligo directly impacts your life and your future. Our government officials need to hear two things from you to make decisions about funding for vitiligo: 1) education about what vitiligo is and why it is important and 2) your personal story about living with vitiligo and why you need funding to go towards vitiligo.
How to Send a Postcard to Your U.S. Congress
So how can you help? There are many ways to reach your representatives, but we are getting you started with a simple step: send a postcard to your representatives explaining vitiligo and sharing your personal story. Here’s how:
Step 1: Download this vitiligo postcard sponsored by the Global Vitiligo Foundation and print it on card stock paper. You will need to print page one, then put the printed page back in the printer to print the back side of the postcard on the same sheet. Once you have printed the postcard front and back on your sheet of paper, draw lines with a pencil to create the outline of the postcard using the ruler printed on the sheet. Cut out the postcard. Repeat process to create three postcards to send to each of your elected officials.
Step 2: On the back of the postcard, use the blank space on the left side to write a personal story about your life with vitiligo. The goal is to explain why you would benefit from funding being given to vitiligo research and awareness. Do you face bullying in school? Do you struggle with depression? Do you see others struggling and want a better future for them? That’s what you need to tell your representative.
Step 3: Look up the name and address of your elected official and put it on the right side of the back of the postcard. To find your U.S. House of Representatives official: Go to http://www.house.gov/ and enter your zip code in the top right hand corner where it says “Find your representative.” The name of your representative will appear. Click the “email” symbol under the representative’s name and you will be taken to a contact page where you can find office addresses. To find your U.S. Senate officials: Go to https://www.senate.gov/. In the top left corner, select your state and you will be taken to a page with the names and addresses of your two officials.
Step 4: Add a stamp to the top right-hand corner on the back of the postcard and put it in the mail!
Did you send a postcard? Take a picture before you send it and let us know! Thanks for stepping up and being the voice of vitiligo.
Erika Page is a blogger, speaker and self-love advocate with universal vitiligo. After living with vitiligo for two decades, Erika founded Living Dappled to create a community of inspiration and hope for girls and women living with vitiligo.