APT documentary delivers results

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, February 22, 2017

With the start of a new Congress and a new presidential administration in office, there’s a lot of increased interest in government right now. That’s one of the reasons I agreed to serve as the subject of “Inside Congress: Alabama to DC,” a new Alabama Public Television documentary project offering an inside look at the many roles played by a United States congressman.

The film features unique, behind-the-scenes footage of my activities throughout the halls of Congress, including a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, a meeting with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and multiple office visits from constituent groups. The film also includes scenes from back home in Alabama, where filmmakers went on the road with me to capture my visits throughout the Second District.

Roy Clem, Executive Director of Alabama Public Television, said the film is part of APT’s larger efforts to educate students and adults about how our government works. In fact, just last week I recorded educational pieces meant for civics classes about the separation of powers, different forms of government, and the foundations of our constitutional republic.

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It was a fun experience working with Roy and award-winning filmmaker Mark Fastoso who is known for his most recent work, “JEREMIAH,” the critically-acclaimed documentary profile of former U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton. 

I’m honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to offer a glimpse into the inner workings of Congress and my day-to-day activities as an elected official and a mom, but the film also highlighted some of the little-known but important work we do to help constituents dealing with federal agencies.

It’s no secret that many veterans seeking care for their service-connected injuries have had trouble getting treatment through the VA. For the last three years, we have worked hard to improve overall access to care at the Central Alabama VA, and much of that work has played out publicly. What is rarely seen, however, is the hard work that goes on behind the scenes when individual veterans who reach out to my office for help dealing with a sometimes difficult system.

The film captures the story of Mr. Vicki Robinson, a Vietnam veteran from Prattville, who after undergoing a routine screening for cancer, never heard back from the VA. The results came back positive, but because Mr. Robinson wasn’t informed, his cancer advanced and became life-threatening. That’s when he reached out to my office for help.

Thanks to the hard work of my dedicated staff, especially Charlotte Bent in my Montgomery office, we were able to get to the bottom of it and get Mr. Robinson the treatment he needed.  Because the documentary shed light on this egregious oversight, the hospital has changed course for the better, and Mr. Robinson and others are now receiving improved quality of care.

I’ve consistently argued that the public – especially veterans and lawmakers – should be privy to VA quality ratings for this very reason. Mr. Robinson’s story is proof that when the public applies pressure to the VA, we often achieve results.

The Central Alabama VA has been improving. While I’m proud of this marked progress, we still have a long way to go and I’m so pleased that APT’s documentary project serves as further motivation to get health care right for our veterans.

I hope you’ll watch “Inside Congress: Alabama to DC” on APT’s website by entering this link in your browser: http://video.aptv.org/video/2365954809/.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.