Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rally for Patriots: Come to Seattle

By Mike Fitzpatrick, NAMI Executive Director

Come to Seattle.

That’s where NAMI will hold its national convention from June 27-30.

It’s less than one month away.

There are many good reasons to come—browse the convention program.  But one of the most important reasons is the “Parity for Patriots” rally that NAMI will hold in Seattle’s Westlake Park.

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan—our longest war—is winding down, but its effects  will be felt for many years by active duty soldiers, National Guard members,  veterans and their families. Yet too many times once a war is over, their mental health needs are forgotten.

The rally, scheduled for June 28 at 1 p.m., will honor those who have served and demonstrate a commitment to leaving no family behind and ending stigma for warriors and veterans who seek help for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other conditions. 

Please join us at the rally. If you can’t, then contact friends or relatives who live in the Seattle area and ask them to stand-in for you.

NAMI’s rally will come two days after a “Parity for Patriots” field hearing in Washington, D.C. being convened by former U.S. Representatives Patrick Kennedy and Jim Ramstad, which will focus on veterans and specifically the need for implementation of the mental health insurance parity law

The Seattle rally will be the first demonstration of support for “Parity for Patriots” on the West Coast.  Additional field hearings led by Kennedy are scheduled for St. Paul, Minn., Chicago and Los Angeles during the summer. NAMI is part of the coalition supporting that broader campaign.

It’s important to rally in Seattle. U.S. Senator Patty Murray chairs the Senate Veterans Committee and is a pivotal ally for our cause. We also need to keep building momentum to move the Obama Administration to implement parity (see my previous blog on that issue).

There’s an old song that says the bluest skies you’ll ever see are in Seattle, along with the greenest green in its hills. That’s one more reason to come to Seattle and join us. Let’s have fun, enjoy the day, but most of all, speak out.

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