President's Message June 2022

I usually have a plan for the topic that I address early each month in the President’s Letter.  I have ideas and gather resources in expectation that by the end of the month, the topic will still be timely and important for our members to consider; after all, it’s only a month.  But in the past year, I have been amazed that in the space of a few weeks, a topic that seemed relevant and important frequently takes a back seat to current events that unfold in hours and minutes.  And this June, the President’s Letter, is no exception.  This month, I was planning on writing about another topic and the shootings in Buffalo, New York and in Uvalde, Texas occurred which happened a mere ten days apart.

We say we were shocked by these senseless shootings, and for good reason. And yet, I find it difficult to say that I was completely surprised. Those killed were shopping or at school, activities that any of us could engage in on any given day.  Sadly, these shootings join a growing list of violent acts across the country, and there have been countless others since the shooting in Uvalde.  All of these tragic events affect our community, our nation, and the world. It is time for serious discussion and action to reduce violence at the hands of those who act irresponsibly. This is not a political discussion. It’s a human problem and a public health problem that requires a strong concerted effort in response.  I’m realistic, but not satisfied with doing nothing. In the coming weeks, I’d like AAHN to craft a response and provide some resources for those who also feel compelled to respond.

I am old enough to remember riding in the car with my mother before seat belts were mandatory.  People said wearing a seat belt in the car was an infringement on our rights and it would never be accepted by the public.  But it has. Then there was the issue of smoking in public places, like restaurants.  Smoking used to be common and even prescribed by physicians to calm the nerves.  When my father graduated from Temple University School of Medicine, he received his diploma, a black bag and two cartons of Lucky Strike cigarettes. It’s hard to imagine that now.  People said regulating smoking would never be tolerated in public spaces, but it has. Gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States.  Some say responsible gun laws will never be accepted by the public.  But in a recent poll by CBS News, 72% of those polled believe mass shootings are preventable, while 28% believe it is something we will have to live with in a free society. If we look at the case of seat belts and smoking or other problems like drinking while driving, I believe history tells us, change is coming.  Gun violence is not acceptable.

My condolences to out to all who have been affected by gun violence. My wish is that you and your families will be safe and that we will work together for positive change. Please let me know your thoughts if you care to share them.

All the best,

Melissa Sherrod
President, AAHN, 2022-2024