When social programs are raised in today’s impolite discourse, “welfare moms” and “food stamp thieves” are the boogiemen. Never mind the spouse who is at the mercy of a manipulative mate or predatory child. Forget the grandparent who can no longer cope and must rely upon the kindness of strangers.
Reported instances of elder abuse are on the rise throughout Virginia. As much as some long to ignore the demands of societal outliers or to isolate them by imprisonment and their victims by ostracization, there will always be others taking their place. Family matters are particularly hard nuts to crack. Aging is what it is; and we all walk that road. This is complicated by the very nature of life and relationships. It is made even more complex by changes that can make life experience, which once served as the source of wisdom, all but irrelevant; context changes; capacity changes. And the costs, actual hard money dollar costs in cell space and remedial social assistance, far outweigh the outlay for prevention.
For Virginia’s Augusta County, an initiative originating at Blue Ridge Legal Services aimed at coordinating scarce resources and preparing law enforcement officers, first responders, and prosecutors to recognize and act on abuse has borne an outstanding opportunity for training and education. The recently formed Augusta County Coalition Against Adult Abuse has organized a symposium June 6, 2011 featuring keynote speaker Paul Greenwood, Deputy District Attorney, San Diego County who will address Successful Investigation and Prosecution of Elder Abuse. He will be joined by Linda Matkins, Shenandoah Valley Department of Social Services on Collaborating with Adult Protective Services and Sharon Burnham, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Virginia discussing Federal Prosecution of Elder Fraud and Abuse. Continuing Legal Education credits and Department of Criminal Justice Services/Partial In-service Credit are pending almost certain approval. While Greater Augusta County organizations have priority, the Coalition has arranged a venue that can support participants from across Virginia at no cost to participants. Believe it or not, it includes a “free lunch” too.
The event will be held at Plecker Workforce Center, Blue Ridge Community College, Weyers Cave from 8:30 AM to 5 PM. Participants may register online. Remember, for Blue Virginia readers, lunch is on me.