The mother of a gun violence victim. An advocate for reduced insulin costs. The uncle of a Marine Corps sniper who committed suicide. Those are some of the guests Connecticut lawmakers are bringing to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday.
Sen. Chris Murphy invited Deborah Davis, an organizer with the Hartford-based group Mothers United Against Violence (MUAV), who lost her son to gun violence in 2010.
“Mass shootings may get the national headlines, but we can’t lose sight of what’s happening every day in communities across Connecticut and the nation,” Murphy said in a statement Monday. “Gun violence has torn too many families apart and is traumatizing our communities, and I wanted Deborah by my side to shine a light on this epidemic and give a voice to those suffering.”
Davis said that she joined the organization -- which offers workshops, educational opportunities and spiritual support for those affected by gun violence -- after her own experience of trauma.
“We serve as change agents to help promote stabilization both for our families and our communities while promoting better mental health services and economic development conditions,” she said in a statement. “I hope that by sharing my story and talking about the work our organization does, it promotes urgency at the national level to end senseless violence.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal will attend the address with Christopher Reeb, of Weston, the uncle of Marine Staff Sergeant Tyler Reeb, a decorated Marine Corps sniper from New Canaan who committed suicide following multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Our nation has abjectly failed to provide the care our heroes need to fight these invisible wounds -- mental health services to diagnose and treat them effectively. The loss of Tyler Reeb as well as his courage and strength, should inspire us to do better," Blumenthal said in a statement Monday. “Our nation has abjectly failed to provide the care our heroes need to fight these invisible wounds - mental health services to diagnose and treat them effectively.”
Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, invited Gary Mendell, a Connecticut resident who is the founder and CEO of Shatterproof -- a national nonprofit that raises awareness about addiction and advocates for federal and state policy changes -- to addend the address with him.
“Like millions of Americans, Gary’s life was forever changed when he lost his son in 2011 after a years-long struggle with a substance use disorder,” Himes said in a statement Monday. “Gary took that heartbreaking loss and transformed it into action. Shatterproof is on the frontline of the fight to reclaim America from the terrible scourge of addiction that is destroying communities and tearing families apart.”
Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, invited Newtown resident Bridget Sclafani as her guest. Sclafani’s husband Paul died of brain cancer in 2018, after a long fight with insurance companies for denying services for his treatment and care, according to a recent press release.
“I was terrified when our insurance company denied the coverage my husband needed to keep him alive, and I swore I would do whatever I could to prevent other families from having to go through that terror,” Sclafani said in a statement.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, will attend the address with Kristen Whitney-Daniels, 29, of Shelton, who has type 1 diabetes and serves as the Connecticut chapter leader of #insulin4all, a T1International campaign advocating for lower insulin costs and increased transparency. Whitney-Daniels had health insurance through her parents’ plan until age 26 but, since then, has struggled through Medicaid, a high-deductible plan through the ACA, and no insurance at all.
“She is one out of four type one diabetics who have been forced to ration insulin,” read a statement from DeLauro’s office Monday. “There have been times she had no idea how she was going to afford the one thing keeping her from life and death.”
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-2nd District) invited John Beauregard, the president and CEO of the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB), to attend the address as his guest. Beauregard helped create and implement the EWIB Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative (MPI), a jobs skills training program, according to a press release Monday.
“There’s a boatload of activity at hand and on the horizon for eastern Connecticut’s manufacturing sector,” Courtney said in a statement. “Thousands of new manufacturing careers are going to become available in our region over the next few years, and it’s because of the visionary work of folks like John Beauregard."
Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, is not bringing a guest to the State of the Union, according to his communications director Mary Yatrousis.