Letter: Earmark helps Indian women's center
"Rep. John Kline argues that federal earmarks are a "waste of your hard-earned tax dollars" and should be eliminated entirely. While I have no doubt that significant resources are squandered on seemingly inane projects, and a review of the federal appropriations system would benefit taxpayers, I offer one example of how federal earmarks can be a life-saving, cost-saving means to a end that benefit all of us.

The Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center (MIWRC) of Minneapolis was awarded a federal earmark in the 2008 session to help us develop a culturally appropriate, gender-specific dual diagnosis treatment program for American Indian women that incorporates a sexual violence intervention. To our knowledge, this treatment model does not exist, yet presents a holistic approach to healing a population disproportionately affected by sexual violence, chemical dependency and mental illness.

American Indian women are sexually assaulted three times as often as any other group, according to Amnesty International, yet the United States Department of Justice reveals that up to 70 percent of sexual assaults against American Indian women go unreported. We know it's bad, but we don't know how bad. We have increasing evidence linking the rates of sexual trauma to heightened incidences of chemical addiction, depression, PTSD, and anxiety disorders. Yet there is a lack of dual diagnosis programming rooted in culture and gender that includes a sexual violence intervention. Addressing this core trauma will improve outcomes while saving lives and taxpayer dollars through a reduction in social service interventions for women who have been raped or are battered."

Get the Story:
Suzanne Koepplinger: How an earmark can be worth every penny (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 9/17)