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NAMI Leaders, Colleagues Receive SAMHSA 'Voice Awards'; Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter also Honored

October 15, 2010

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) applauds seven NAMI leaders and colleagues who received consumer leadership honors at the  2010 Voice Awards ceremonies co-hosted by Emmy Award-winner Hector Elizondo and Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on October 13.

NAMI honorees include two current and one former NAMI national board members who are active on veterans issues, Moe Armstrong, Fred Frese, Clarence Jordan and former NAMI Texas Consumer Council chair Janet Paleo.

"We are immensely proud of them," said NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick. "The Voice Awards are prestigious honors for leaders in a broad national movement that is working to eliminate stigma and transform America's mental health care system."

A special theme of this year's Voice Awards, sponsored by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), emphasized the growing mental health needs of current and former members of America's armed forces as they return from war.

Voice Awards also were presented to entertainment industry writers and producers who have incorporated dignified, respectful, and accurate portrayals of mental illness in film and television productions.

  • A Special Recognition for Career Achievement was presented to former first lady Rosalynn Carter for her 40-year campaign to improve the mental healthcare system and educate the public about mental illness.
  • NAMI national board member Moe Armstrong of Connecticutreceived the Lifetime Achievement Award. He served as a medical corpsman in the Marine Corps, where he was decorated for bravery in the Vietnam War. He has worked to provide peer-to-peer support and create environments of stability, safety and sobriety for others.

Consumer Leadership Awards

  • Former NAMI national board member, Fred Frese of Ohio, served as an officer in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Despite a diagnosis of schizophrenia and numerous involuntary hospitalizations in state, private, and military psychiatric wards, he pursued a medical degree and earned a doctorate and became director of psychology at Western Reserve Psychiatric Hospital. He currently is coordinator of the Summit County Recovery Project.
  • NAMI national board member Clarence Jordan of Tennessee is an executive on the Value Options Behavioral Health Services team for clinical, provider relations and medical services and former Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. His experiences were chronicled in Hearts and Soul magazine in 2007.
  • Janet Paleo of Texas, past chair of the NAMI Texas Consumer Council, has worked as a consumer affairs specialist in a community mental health center and once declared: "By all laws of nature, I rightly should be dead now. I have died at least on one occasion, but was brought back by doctor's miracles and God's grace…My life's mission is to help people stop the pain, to find joy and to begin living a life of hope and dreams."

The honorees who have worked closely with NAMI are:

  •  Gayle Bluebird of Florida, author of "Reaching Across with the Arts" a how-to guide for creating arts programs in consumer-operated programs. She has regularly organized consumer performances and workshops at NAMI's national conventions.
  • LaVerne Millerof New York who as a senior project associate member with Policy Research Associates is co-director of the SAMHSA-funded Consumer and Family Network National Technical Assistance Center. She oversees NAMI's administration of the family component of the network.
  • Lorrin Gehringof Utah and recipient of the Young Adult Leadership Award serves as youth involvement resource specialist for the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health has written for the NAMI Child & Adolescent Action Center's Beginnings magazine. 

About NAMI

NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI has over 1100 state and local affiliates that engage in research, education, support and advocacy. NAMI is a non-partisan, non-profit organization and does not endorse political candidates.

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