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Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 632, the National Silver Alert Act, which I cosponsored in the 110th Congress.
At the outset, let me congratulate my neighboring colleague from Florida GUS BILIRAKIS for his leadership on this legislation to create a nationwide communications network to help locate missing senior citizens. GUS was the original author of this legislation last year in response to the tragic death of 86-year-old Mary Zelter, who drove away from her assisted living facility in Pinellas County, Florida, which GUS and I both represent, and drowned when her car crashed into a local waterway.
With GUS leading the way, our community responded by calling attention to the lack of an alert system for missing senior citizens. Mary Zelter's daughter Mary Lallucci become a vocal advocate for the need for such a system and Largo Police Chief Lester Aradi personally undertook a system to establish a local Silver Alert system for our area. GUS and I attended the kick-off for this network when Chief Aradi activated our county-wide system September 30th. He was also the chairman of the committee that coordinated the establishment of a Florida-wide Silver Alert system, which was activated by Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement last October.
The local model we developed under the leadership of GUS BILIRAKIS, Chief Aradi, State Representative Tom Anderson, Mary Lallucci, Gloria Smith, the president our local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, and Sallie Parks, the past president and board member of our local Area Agency on Aging, can be taken nationwide to save the lives of senior citizens who wander off in their vehicles. As with the Amber Alert system for children and youth, it makes those critical first minutes and hours when someone is found to be missing count and increases the chances of a happy ending. In the four months since the enactment of our state-wide program, there have been 41 Florida Silver Alerts including nine last month.
The legislation we consider today will take the Florida model nationwide so that all States can have the benefit of a Silver Alert system and so that we can track missing senior citizens who drive off in their cars should they cross state boundaries. It will establish a national coordinator to bring together State efforts and authorize the appropriation of $10 million a year for State activities in support of the Silver Alert program. Finally, it will provide an annual report to Congress and the States on the program so that we can share lessons learned to improve the effectiveness of state- wide and nationwide Silver Alert networks.
Mr. Speaker, this is good legislation and I again want to commend my colleague from Florida GUS BILIRAKIS for his tireless work to keep the issue alive. Senior citizens and their families all across our nation will directly benefit from that action we take today.
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