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Susan and Joe Sestak Visit Philadelphia Health Clinic

Highlight Need to Support Vital Social Services during Recession

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak and his wife Susan Clark-Sestak visited Philadelphia-area social services today where they called for more support for these vital resources.

Meeting with staff and patients at the Woodland Avenue Health Center, Joe said that programs like these have been an essential lifeline for those hit hardest by the recession, requiring leaders to not just support medical programs but also to ensure that everyone has access to comprehensive and affordable healthcare.

“Greater Philadelphia Health Action has served over 80,000 patients in the Delaware Valley – and that’s something to be extremely proud of,” said Joe. “Access to quality health care should be a right, not a privilege. That’s your mission here – and that’s the cause I will continue to work toward in the U.S. Senate”

Access to healthcare has been a deeply personal issue for Admiral Sestak and Susan since their daughter Alex was diagnosed with a brain tumor five years ago. Thanks to the health coverage provided by the Navy, Alex was able to get the treatment she needed to recover, but Susan said many more families are faced with the daunting challenge of how to provide for their children’s health.

“We want to be sure that people in Washington are looking out for our interests,” said Susan. “We need leaders who will take care of people who are working hard or looking for work and struggling to make ends meet, and fight for our values like access to health care.”

Susan said Joe helped take the country one step closer to guaranteeing the same kind of coverage they received in the Navy with the passage of the healthcare reform bill earlier this year, a law Congressman Toomey opposes.

“I am against an opponent who wants to stop progress dead in its tracks,” said Joe. “What doesn’t he like about what we passed? Is it that a woman can’t be discriminated against in coverage because she can do something a man can’t? Is it the free preventative screenings for seniors? Is it the fact that children like my daughter can’t be denied for pre-existing conditions? Is it the fact that small businesses get tax credits to pay for health care for employees? Or is it the fact that we decrease the national debt?

“Not only was the health care effort the right thing to do, it was an economic necessity,” said Joe.

Prior to their stop at the Woodland Avenue Health Center, Susan visited the Maternity Cares Coalition’s Early Head Start location in South Philadelphia, where she visited with young parents and their children. She later went to the Community Women’s Education Project where she spoke with students in a career coaching class about the unique challenges they face entering a job market still in the midst of recession. She said her husband is working to expand job opportunities with more job training programs and a 15 percent tax credit for small business that hire new workers.

“Joe will do whatever it takes to create jobs, so you can put the skills you develop here to good use,” said Susan. “He’ll always stand on the side of those who work, and those who want to work.”

At both events, Susan spoke of the necessity of a good education from Head Start to college that places an emphasis on preparing students for the 21st century workforce they will enter. Susan noted that while her husband voted to boost funding for Head Start by $2.1 billion and helped expand access to college financial aid, Congressman Toomey voted to slash the education budget by $3 billion and even to allow Head Start to practice discrimination while hiring staff.

After her stop with Joe at the Woodland Avenue Health Center, Susan will make a final stop at Anna’s Place in Upper Darby. The site is used for a number of programs geared toward women and children, including support groups, language classes, legal and other help.

Joe and Susan’s stops through Philadelphia mark the last day of Admiral Sestak’s Jobs and Opportunities Tour, during which he visited small businesses, community centers and housing projects to discuss the struggles urban areas like those in Philadelphia have faced and the need for practical solutions that will help turn the economy around.

Joe Sestak was elected to Congress in 2006 after a distinguished 31-year career in the United States Navy, and he is honored to represent the Southeastern Pennsylvania district where he was born and raised. He is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania.  During his Navy career, Joe attained the rank of 3-star Admiral, served in the White House as Director for Defense Policy on President Clinton’s National Security Council, served in the Pentagon as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, and led a series of operational commands at sea, culminating in command of the USS George Washington Aircraft Carrier Battle Group (30 ships, 100 aircraft, and 15,000 sailors/marines/aviators/SEALs) during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In our nation’s time of crisis in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the Navy turned to Joe Sestak to serve as the first Director of “Deep Blue,” the Navy anti-terrorism unit formed in response to the attacks. Joe is the highest-ranking former military officer ever elected to either branch of Congress. He graduated second in his class from the U.S. Naval Academy and holds a Master’s in Public Administration and a PhD in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University. Joe lives in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Susan, and daughter, Alex, and proudly represents the 7th District, where his mother and many of his seven siblings still reside.

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