BETHEL, Conn. — As U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty stood before about 30 people Tuesday at the Bethel Senior Center to address their issues and concerns, Medicare and Social Security were two topics that came up.
"Medicare is the single most important government program whose purpose is to lift seniors out of poverty," said Esty (D-5th District). "I'm very committed to making sure medicare will be there."
Social Security was also addressed. "You earned Social Security," she said. "It got taken out of your paycheck — in the promise that it would be there when you need it."
She explained that Social Security is especially an issue for women who stayed at home with their children or who made less money than their husbands. "Social Security needs to be there for them for a secure retirement," Esty said.
She discussed the Social Security 2100 Act. Authored and introduced by U.S. Rep. John B. Larson (D-1st District), the purpose of this act is to strengthen the benefits for current and future Social Security beneficiaries.
"John Larsen is one of our champions on raising the wage level," Esty said of her Connecticut colleague.
Affordable housing was another topic addressed. Sandra Nichols from the Bethel Housing Authority at Reynolds Ridge said in Bethel, the housing authority is helping many seniors.
"People in our community shouldn't be worried about whether they can afford to stay in their home," Nichols said, adding that many have other issues to focus on.
Esty also spoke about the Gold Star Fathers bill, which she helped to pass in 2015. This law extends formal hiring preference for federal jobs to fathers of disabled and deceased veterans.
Previously, only Gold Star Mothers were given preference when applying for certain federal civil service jobs.
Esty spoke about how this bill affected Joseph Nolan of Waterbury, a Vietnam veteran who lost his son, Joe, in Iraq. "Joe's son signed up on his own to serve in Iraq as a translator, and was killed. We got legislation passed that recognized Joe's son's service.
"Democracy is about all of is," Esty said. "It's not a spectator sport. If we want it to be better, it's up to us to make it better."
Esty represents the 5th District, which includes Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, Newtown and Sherman as well as much of northwestern Connecticut.
The Bethel Senior Center is at 1 School St.