One Man’s Vision of Equality and Disability

by John D. Kemp, President & CEO of The Viscardi Center.

Pictured is Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., Founder of The Viscardi Center

According to the U.S. Census, there are over 59 million of us in the United States. There are 650 million of us worldwide. And since we represent 10% of the global population, it is important that our success stories are celebrated. Who are we? People with disabilities.

We are an integral fabric in our communities in the United States and around the world. We range from thought leaders and innovators to everyday citizens. Despite our significant contributions, people with disabilities continue to face considerable barriers.

However, strides are being made; we live in a global era that is witnessing expanding human rights, Paralympic athletes pushing the limits of their bodies, corporations aggressively diversifying their workforces by including people with disabilities, and the advent of new medical technologies and treatments to fight chronic diseases. In that spirit of progress, it seems only natural that we reflect on the contributions made by people with disabilities, many of whom have helped us reach this place.

There was a time, unfortunately, when having a disability was seen as a negative thing, even frowned upon … but times are changing. Disability is increasingly accepted – even celebrated – within our family units, our work environments and our communities. We praise “disability” not because the disability defines the individual, but rather because the individual defines the disability. This is exactly why people with disabilities are helping to change the world that we live in for the better.
To that end, I invite you to rejoice in this celebration by nominating a friend, colleague or mentor with a disability for the Viscardi Awards this month. They are designed to recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of people with disabilities being made on a daily basis and over time to include people with disabilities in everyday life and allow every person to achieve to their fullest potential.

The Viscardi Awards were developed to honor the legacy and vision of our founder, Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who himself wore prosthetic legs. As one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities, he served as a disability advisor to eight presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter.

By taking the time to submit a nomination prior to March 15th, it serves as a reminder that more needs to be done to fully include people with disabilities in society. The people being nominated to receive a Viscardi Award are evidence that societal recognition and change is happening.


John D. Kemp has been President & CEO of The Viscardi Center in New York since February 2011. Born without arms and legs, he has been actively involved in the disability movement, both in the US and internationally, for over 50 years. Additionally, John has been instrumental in the  growth and development of the independent (nonprofit) sector where he serves as an attorney in government and private practice, and as an executive in leadership positions. In 2006, he received the Henry B. Betts Award, widely regarded as America’s highest honor for disability leadership and service, from the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Bending the Cost Curve: Solutions to Expand the Supply of Affordable Rentals

by Andrew Jakabovics, Lynn M. Ross, Molly Simpson, and Michael Spotts - (Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Center for Housing and Enterprise Community Partners).

Summary: This report from Enterprise and the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing, explores the many factors that raise the cost of affordable rental housing development and provides specific recommendations for bending the housing cost curve.

As public funding sources come under threat - in efforts to reduce government expenditures or simplify the tax code - it becomes increasingly necessary to identify opportunities to lower the cost of providing affordable homes.

This report, which builds upon our previous discussion brief on the subject, (see Bending the Cost Curve on Affordable Rental Development), explores the many factors that raise the cost of affordable rental housing development provides specific recommendations for bending the housing cost curve.

This research is based on a series of interviews and roundtable discussions co-hosted by the Terwilliger Center and Enterprise over 12 months with more than 150 developers, financiers, and policy makers in ten markets. The report states that costs could be lowered by: promoting consolidation, coordination and simplification; removing barriers to reducing construction costs and delays; facilitating a more efficient deal assembly and development timeline; improving and aligning incentives; improving the flexibility of existing sources of financing and creating new financial products; and supporting the development and dissemination of best practices.

Rick Lazio is a member of the Board of Trustees of Enterprise Community Partners and a member of the Board of Directors of the Enterprise Community Loan Fund.

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American Youth, STDs and Catastrophic Antibiotic Resistance

by Melissa Lackland.

By definition, the youth of any society bears the burden of its future: they inherit the problems of the past and are faced with the pressing task of finding solutions to those that have grown worse with neglect. This seems clearer today than at any time during the past half century. The bad politics and bad practices that have resulted in a world economy in long term crisis have impacted on so many areas of modern life that the young in 2014 must have insecurity hard-wired into their brains. If the crises in education, employment, pensions and healthcare weren’t enough of a burden, the complex problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics is set to become one of the most dangerous threats to all our futures.

A timely warning

A report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013, gives the first clear summary of the likely impact on our health and the nation’s health services. It estimates that even now 23,000 Americans die each year as a result of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and a further 2 million develop serious infections. Director of the CDC, Dr Thomas Frieden, warns that swift action is needed or we will no longer be able to rely on the antibiotics necessary to save lives, as there are no new drugs in the pipeline: ‘If and when we do get new drugs, unless we do a better job of protecting them, we’ll lose those also.’

Over-prescription is the main cause of the problem: in response, bacteria mutate into resistant strains. Very few new antibiotics have been developed in the past thirty years, and few companies are working on new drugs to replace those that are becoming ineffective. The widespread practice of the routine dosing of farm animals with antibiotics, which the CDC report judges largely to be unnecessary and which makes up 80% of antibiotics used in the US, has introduced high levels of antibiotics into the food chain and increased the development of resistant bacteria.

Sexually transmitted diseases

The problem of resistance is hitting the younger sector of the population hardest with new strains of the bacteria that cause sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). While infection rates for most STDs have dropped or at least stabilized, the US still has the highest rate of infections in the western world, particularly with the emergence of new antibiotic resistant strains of gonorrhea and Chlamydia. The age group 15-24 make up only 25% of the sexually active population, but contract 50% of STD infections.

Complicating the story is the alarming increases in the number of infections caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause genital warts and anal, oral, cervical and penile cancers. As a virus, it is not treatable by antibiotics. Although there is an effective vaccine, the number of infections are rising through the lack of effective prevention and awareness programs, particularly those based in our schools. The CDC recommends that the vaccine be given to boys and girls from the age of 11, although debate continues over mandatory vaccination. As things stand, only about 35% of girls and 28% of boys are vaccinated in the US, compared to Australian figures of 72% and 62% respectively. The idea of vaccinating schoolchildren against HPV has been a political hot potato as in some quarters it is seen as encouraging sexual promiscuity.

It’s a similar picture when it comes to discussions of all STDs and children under the age of consent: the moral issues outweigh medical pragmatism; but where the health of the next generation is concerned, can we afford such squeamishness? Stigma is perhaps one of the greatest challenges in reducing infection rates. Testing is vital. The website KwikMed clearly sums up these twin problems: ‘It is clear from the statistics and from anecdotal evidence that a significant proportion across the world would rather avoid the stigma of being tested than look after their own health.’ 25% of US college students are infected with an STD, while 71% use no form of protection. Most STDs are easily curable, but the combination of stigma and denial of the risks to oneself and to partners has helped to produce the current crisis in public health. The CDC has estimated that the cost of treatment for STDs amounts to about $16 billion annually. If for no other reason, the economic impact of this health issue that is now almost out of control shows the urgent need for a solution.

The wider picture

The CDC study into antibiotic resistance was conceived as a vital ‘bringing together’ of current knowledge about drug-resistant bacteria and how to combat the problem, by both developing new drugs and preserving those that are still effective. Alarm has been raised worldwide, with the UK’s chief medical officer describing the problem as a ‘catastrophic health threat,’ following a World Health Organization (WHO) report that brought attention to a situation that is making treatment of bacterial diseases increasingly difficult.

Each year in the US almost 250,000 people are hospitalized with infections due to Clostridium difficile, most of which should have been preventable. The figure for drug-resistant gonorrhea is similar at 246,000. The most dangerous infections are caused by contact with multidrug-resistant bacteria while hospitalized for other issues. These include the most deadly, Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), with 11,000 deaths per 80,000 cases; Acineobacter with 500 death in 7,300 cases; and E. coli and Klebsiella with 1,700 deaths in 26,000 infections. Among the threats in most urgent need of a solution is Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) – the cause of a recent outbreak in Illinois. Because of its high resistance to even the most powerful antibiotics, infection can result in 40-50% fatalities.

Much needed political action that encourages testing, the development of preventative and educational programs, a rigorous culture of hospital cleanliness, and in the area of sexual health, a culture of personal and public responsibility, will not only halt the rates of such infections but also reduce the high costs involved, where currently the process is more one of fire fighting rather than fire prevention.

Melissa Lackland is a former finance worker and journalist who gave up the rat race when family life and motherhood beckoned.  She now works as a freelance writer, though still maintains a passionate interest in all areas of business.

A Lesson for Paramedics: How to Treat Dogs Who Work in a War Zone

by Eric P. Newcomer (published at

imageMembers of the Air National Guard with a dog model learned emergency care from Dr. Dominic J. Marino of Long Island Veterinary Specialists.

Hovering in a helicopter over an arid landscape in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Mark Joseloff thought his elite paramedic training had prepared him for whatever awaited him below.

But not this.

Tending to a military dog that had collapsed in the 110 degree heat, Sergeant Joseloff, 34, leaned on what he knew about humans in similar situations.

He covered the dog in a wet blanket, applied electrolyte gel and ordered the helicopter to fly with its doors open. The dog, however, refused to drink water.

The dog survived, but the experience unsettled Sergeant Joseloff, a pararescueman in the New York Air National Guard. “I just kind of winged it,” he said. “I think I got lucky. That was an eye opener.”

Filling a gap in battlefield emergency care, more than a dozen rescuers in the Air National Guard, including Sergeant Joseloff, spent two days recently learning how to treat dogs in combat settings. With military dogs playing crucial roles in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need for expertise in quickly tending to wounded or sick animals has become imperative.

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PJs Get Bronze Stars With ‘V’ For Ambush Rescues

by Brian Everstine (Published at, 12/15/13).

From left, Capt. Ronnie Maloney, Senior Master Sgt. Erik Blom, Tech. Sgt. Anthony Yusup, Staff Sgt. James Dougherty, Staff Sgt. Matthew Zimmer and Staff Sgt. Christopher Petersen. (New York Air National Guard)

Twenty-five soldiers — both American and Afghan — were going door to door Dec. 10, 2012, to clear an Afghan village of insurgent threats. Air Force pararescuemen at Kandahar Air Field watched via live video.

Then, the ambush hit.

“We saw an explosion. Immediately, the phone started ringing, and we got in the helicopters,” recalled Capt. Ronnie Maloney, a combat rescue officer then on his second deployment with the 103rd Rescue Squadron of the New York Air National Guard.

In 15 minutes on the ground, pararescuemen extracted four critically injured soldiers, both American and Afghan.

For their achievement, 10 airmen received medals, including six from the New York Air National Guard who were presented the Bronze Star for Valor on Dec. 6. The troops in the mission also were recognized with the Jolly Green Association’s 2012 Rescue of the Year award.

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