Thursday, February 02, 2006

2/2/06 The First of Many

Duty called Monday night and this posting did not make it up. The phone rang at 11:30pm. On the other end of the line was a missing person's family member asking for help, not knowing what to do next. They were surprised to get a "live" person. Missing people don't just happen from 8-5pm, so we do our best to be responsive when the need is there. By the time I handled that and several other urgent emails that came in, it was long past bedtime. Those needs came first.

I have received some very good news with our Campaign for the Missing. We already have very positive forward momentum in several states. I wanted to share with you our first success in obtaining sponsorship from a senator for one of the states and to honor the person behind that success, Jim Viola, husband of missing Patricia Viola.

We wrote about Jim back in September. You can read his story here:

Jim was very willing to join us on our campaign to pass legislation in each and every state pertaining to missing persons and unidentified remains. He indicated he'd had no experience in doing this, but he was still willing and ready.

On January 7th, he sent correspondence to his New Jersey District 37 Senator, Loretta Weinberg. She responded shortly thereafter and said:

"Thank you for sharing your very personal story in your recent letter. I cannot imagine how hard it has been for you and your family to cope with such a devastating loss. I am glad however, that you are taking this important proactive step by sharing with me your proposed legislation. My Assembly colleagues and I will look into this proposal at once......"

On Tuesday, Jim received word from Senator Weinburg's office that she had agreed to sponsor the bill. It is now in the research and drafting stages.

I asked Jim how he felt about the events of the past few weeks:

"To be honest, from reading all the progress and meetings going on in other states, I was very surprised and humbled to be called "first". I thought that at least several other states had already secured sponsorship and I thought that at least NJ is falling in line with everyone else's efforts. I still think that states may in fact have sponsorship, but have not been told or asked the right question.

After reading Kelly's post and then Keri's, I realized that this was some good progress. I was very surprised and excited when I heard about the sponsorship since I figured they were still mulling it over.

Apparently, they decided to really move on it, which is great. I have now certainly increased the intensity of my studying and understanding of the model. Sen. Weinberg's team indicated that eventually I will be called to testify so now I really need to become an expert.

My recent studying of the model makes me realize that my Pat should have been listed as "high risk" based on the her medication for the epilepsy she has. Pat's high risk status would have resulted in an almost immediate input of accurate information into the NCIC instead of what I believe was possibly weeks or months in Pat's case.

Also, I would found out immediately about the National Center for Missing Adults and known what to do right away. Hopefully these blunders will not cost me my Pat, but at least I can push for corrections to these and many other procedures going forward."

Sadly, February 13th will mark 5 years since Patricia disappeared. Jim's daughter, Christine, and the Youth Ministry at their church are planning a Prayer Vigil for Feb. 13 at 7:30 PM at St. Joseph's RCC. Christine wanted to take care of this herself for her mom. All are welcome.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

If you'd like to know more about Campaign for the Missing and how you can become involved, please read the following:


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