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U.S. Senate champion on trauma, Heidi Heitkamp, provides inspired and hope-filled leadership


(L to R) Nadine Burke Harris, Sen. Heidi Heikamp, Frank Kros, and Renee Wilson-Simmons

Last evening I posted a video of a June 5 congressional briefing that I attended on trauma and the opioid crisis with a plan to write a post about the event today. In the comfort of my living room, I played the beginning of the video, hoping to find a good screen shot to use with the article, but instead was surprisingly moved by the second listening of the words of U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) about why the issue of trauma is so important her: She says it gives her hope. She eloquently makes the case for getting at the root causes of so many of our societal problems through ACEs science and trauma and describes this moment in time when every new piece of research or information adds to our progress in building the ACEs-trauma-resilience movement. Even though I heard her words in person, listening to her again on video—and seeing her embrace of Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the pediatrician who founded the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco—was inspiring.  Please make time to listen to her comments and those by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) that precede hers. 

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp hugs Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

And if you have more than the 13 minutes to listen to the senators, there also are excellent presentations by Dr. Burke Harris; Renee Wilson-Simmons, the newly appointed executive director of the ACE Awareness Foundationof Memphis; and Frank Kros, COO of The Children’s Guild. Marlo Nash, director of policy for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, moderated the session.  The Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice provided assistance to Heitkamp’s office by suggesting speakers for the panel. Heitkamp said she devoured Burke Harris’ book, The Deepest Well, and urged everyone to buy and read it. 

Dan Press, CTIPP Board Member (standing), speaks with Renee Wilson-Simmons and Frank Kros before the congressional briefing begins.

The briefing was designed primarily to educate Senate staff and to urge support for trauma-related provisions in the Opioid Crisis Response Act (S. 2680). As reported in ACEs Connection, the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions) Committee approved a bill with the trauma provisions in April. A section-by-section of the Heitkamp-Durbin Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act (S. 774) with provisions of the Opioid Crisis Response Act (S. 2680) highlighted is attached.


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