CT Watchdog: Congressional Staffers Help Constituents

By George Gombossy, CTwatchdog.com

Congressmen, for many people, have about the same credibility as journalists and used car salesman.

But congressional aides are a much different story: at least they should be.

They are a wonderful resource for consumers to turn to when they run into roadblocks or questions dealing with the federal bureaucracy and other issues.

Every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate has at least four staffers whose only job is to help YOU.

Issues involving Social Security, Veterans’ Administration, Small Business Administration, State Department, federally chartered banks, are just some of the areas you can bring in the cavalry.

Even if it seems like an impossible task, these aides are there to battle for you.

Helena M. Thomson of Hartford turned to Sen. Chris Dodd’s office for help in her quest to reunite her aging mother with her mother’s brother, whom she had not seen for 68 years.

Thomson’s mother, Ann Burlak Myhajczuk, was taken from her home in the Ukraines in 1942 by the German Army to work as a laborer, leaving her family behind, to never see them again.

After World War II she decided not to return to her homeland because it was taken over by Russia and she moved from the German labor camp to Venezuela, which was then accepting displaced people.

She ended up in Connecticut, and last year she located her youngest brother, now 72, still living in the Ukraines.

Thomson and her 88-year-old mother has been working with Mark Stephanou, a Dodd aide, attempting to convince the State Department to give their relative a visa so he could at least one more time see his sister before she passes away.

So far, the State Department has turned down Iaroslav Burlak’s request to visit his sister three times on the grounds that he may not want to return to his native country.

But that has not deterred Stephanou’s willingness to continue to work on a reunion.

But time is running out for Myhajczuk, who is not in the best health, according to a medical certificate from her doctor.

Congressman John Larson’s First Congressional District averages more than 2,000 constituent cases a year, ranging to Veterans and Military issues to handling Social Security and Medicare concerns for seniors.

“Our office has an open door policy when it comes to serving the needs and concerns of the residents in the 27 towns in the 1st Congressional District'” said spokesman Paul H. Mounds. “Every case we take in is unique, and anyone who contacts our office for assistance can be assured their case will be handled with the highest regard by our staff. ”

Mounds, whose office also has an outreach program where it goes to different towns to offer assistance, said, that besides the issues already mentioned, housing, HUD, and banking receive the most requests for help.

Dodd’s office handles around 2,500 requests for help each year. It has also been involved in IRS cases, health insurance, postal service, credit cards, grants, and citizenship issues.

George Gombossy can be reached at george@connecticutwatchdog.com or you can send him a letter at Connecticut Watchdog, PO Box 23, East Longmeadow, Ma., 01028.

He will respond to as many inquiries and complaints as time permits. Please check out ctWatchdog.com for other consumer, health and finance tips.



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