Zero has a great format for educating the constituents of congressional members on the core legislative needs of a prostate cancer patient. I would never have been able to write the LA for Harry Reid for example, Ms. Carolyn Gluck, and tell her what programs I support funding for because who knows that cancer research is part of the Department of Defense? The CDMRP is a department of the DoD that funds research, but it was lobbied that this funding be part of the defense budget so that it always gets funded. If you really don't know these things then you will likely get the form letter back. Here's some things I learned from Zero:
1. Do not write letters and mail them. Instead go to your representatives official websites and go to the link there that allows you to write them. Since the anthrax scare right after 9/11 mailed letters are baked, chemically treated, and by the time your reps read them they are faded and pressed like a heavily starched shirt. It's possible they won't be readable when they finally reach their destination.
2. Understand where the funding is needed. The CDMRP is the right answer. When defense budgets get cut, the CDMRP usually gets cut, which means cancer research gets cut. This will commonly be where the opportunity lies to have congress make cuts that don't affect cancer research.
3. Understand the hot topics. They are all aware of the US Preventive Services Task Force and the controversial PCa topic regarding screening. When I went there I explained my understanding of why the recommendation came about
, that the USPSTF is not a bunch of "idiots" but rather a panel of professionals concerned as to why there is so much over-treatment and over-diagnosis. Some at Zero do not agree with my position here but they don't need to. Instead I use this controversy to explain that this conflict helps explain why we can't make cuts at this time. That more funding is needed to improve the quality of screening so that we treat the right guys while protecting guys whom may never need treatment.
4. Awareness is another hot topic. We need bipartisan support for earlier education for men, like we see with young woman on cervical and breast cancers, and that can be valuable funding and even more valuable by heading off future unnecessary treatment expenditure.
5. You can do all the above with your state congressional representatives.
Don't be political. I know that sounds funny when contacting politicians, but being a supporter of a party can hinder your message. Letting them know that you vote and that these topics are important "to me" are a best way to express your passion without being offensive. Pca is an apolitical topic and you need to be as well...
Zero will help you understand these points. Once a year when it's lobby season, they will gather in DC, with full sponsorship for your airfare or hotel, and have a three day plan of attack that includes a congressional reception, all day class on the core topics being lobbied, and then give you your walking papers with pre-planned meetings with congressional members from your area.
It's an experience I'll always remember, and like I said I am now well connected with how to be an effective lobbyist.
Post Edited (TC-LasVegas) : 3/11/2013 5:39:26 PM (GMT-6)