Feb 16, 2014

Stamp Out Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s Disease Research Semipostal Stamp
This is a picture of the Alzheimer's commerative stamp that was issued in 2008.
It did not raise money for Alzheimer's research.

By Max Wallack
Alzheimer's Reading Room
Lynda Everman
Help Stamp Out Alzheimer's

As all of us on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room know Alzheimer’s is one of the greatest and most costly medical and social problems facing our nation today.

It is a cruel disease which extracts a tremendous physical, emotional, and financial toll from all it touches. We must continue our support for those with this disease and their care partners, but we must also fight to stop this disease by finding varied innovative ways to fund research!

The proposed legislation for an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Semipostal Stamp, H.R. 1508 or S. 1091 is one such way.

Quite simply, this legislation would direct the USPS to design and issue a postage stamp that would raise awareness and crucial funds for Alzheimer’s research.

The beauty of this stamp is that is does this WITHOUT increasing taxes, discretionary spending, or the deficit.

Like the popular and successful Breast Cancer Research Semipostal which has raised over $77.6 million for breast cancer research, the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Semipostal would cost a few cents more than regular first class postage, with the extra funds going to the NIH to fund research for better treatments, prevention, and - the ultimate prize - a CURE for Alzheimer’s & related disorders.

We must use EVERY means available to defeat Alzheimer’s, our formidable opponent.

Like many of you, we have lost those we’ve loved the most: Max, his great grandmother. Lynda, her dad and her husband. These losses, as painful as they are, have fueled our advocacy and our determination to fund and find a cure, but we need YOUR help!

We need to recruit the majority of our representatives to step up and sign on to this legislation, or it will fail. 

This is the 5th time this legislation has been introduced in the House and the 4th time in the Senate since 2005. Each time it fails to get out of committee, the process begins all over again.

Please CALL your elected officials TODAY! Ask them to get on board.

This is the single most effective way to influence their opinions about legislation.

Members of Congress regularly ask their staff to report on the opinions of constituents calling their offices, and they often keep track of the numbers of constituents weighing in on a particular issue.

It’s easy. Follow these steps:

1. Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121; then ask to be put through to the office of your congressman or Senator.

If you don’t know the names of your representatives, you can find out who they are, as well as the direct line to their offices by visiting:

2. Once you reach the lawmaker’s office, ask to speak with their Health Legislative Aid.

Then use these talking points:

Provide your name and let them know that you are a constituent in their state/district.

Let them know that Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States; that there are currently 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, and 15.4 million unpaid caregivers. These numbers are expected to triple over the next decade.

American families and taxpayers now spend $200 billion per year caring for those with Alzheimer’s and within ten years, more than $2 trillion will have been spent on care for those with Alzheimer’s. Our only hope at changing these figures is to vigorously fund research.

Ask your Senators/representative to COSPONSOR H.R.1508 (House) and S.1091 (Senate): To provide for the issuance of an Alzheimer's Disease Research Semipostal Stamp.

Passage of this bill would raise awareness of the enormity of this health crisis AND help fund research WITHOUT increasing taxes, discretionary spending, or the deficit. The semipostal would, in fact, provide much needed, cost neutral, additional revenue for dementia research.

Please share your personal reasons for asking this. Personal stories do have emotional impact!

Tell your legislator that his/her vote might be the one that makes a difference and helps find an effective treatment or cure for Alzheimer's.

Let your legislators know that we will be publishing a list of the supporters in an article on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room and, also, publicly acknowledging them on the HelpStampOUTAlzheimer’s advocacy page.

Thank the aid for his/her time and close by leaving your name, city of residence, and phone number so their office can follow up with you.

Feel free to share the responses of your legislators in the comments box here on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room.

Thank you for taking awareness to the next step: to ACTION! With your help we CAN Help Stamp OUT Alzheimer’s!

A note from Lynda Everman.

First, my thanks to Max for cowriting this article and to Bob for using the broad reach of the Alzheimer's Reading Room to draw attention to this initiative.

I actually came into the process a little late - around 2010 - as I was consumed as a caregiver for my late husband, Richard, who was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in 1997 and passed away with Alzheimer's in early 2012. And, yes, it was a definitive diagnosis as Richard donated his brain to be used for Alzheimer's research upon death.

To answer a few of your concerns, the stamp you see in the photograph - and the profile picture on my Help Stamp OUT Alzheimer's Facebook page - is retired.

It was designed by USPS Art Director Ethel Kessler and released as a short lived commemorative stamp in 2008.

While her mother suffered from Alzheimer's, this was not a depiction of her mother, but intended to draw attention to the importance of the care partners of those who have Alzheimer's and related neurological disorders. The words, care, support, and research appear in the selvage in the upper right corner of the stamp sheet. The haze in the background portrays confusion and the light, hope.

If/when a semipostal is approved, there will be a contest for a new design. We have no control over the choice that is made.

Getting to this point has been a long and arduous journey. Fellow advocate Kathy Siggins has been pursuing this since the death of her husband, Gene, in 1999. This is the 5th time it's been introduced in the House & the 4th time in the Senate.

As a semipostal, it is unique in that, not only would it raise awareness, it would also raise much needed funds for dementia research, and allow the "ordinary" citizen to contribute.

"Individual effort is the only way to make a collective difference." 

While it is not "THE" answer, it is another - and highly symbolic - tool in our arsenal to end a very cruel disease that has claimed too many for far too long.

Max Wallack, Puzzles to Remember

Lynda Everman, Help Stamp OUT Alzheimer’s

Max Wallack is a student at Boston University and a Research Intern in the Molecular Psychiatry and Aging Laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine. His great grandmother, Gertrude, suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Max is the founder of PUZZLES TO REMEMBER. PTR is a project that provides puzzles to nursing homes and veterans institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.