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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

NMHA : Iraq Veteran's Mental Health Awareness Work Honored

Great news to be able to pass along! James 'Blake' Miller, also known as the Marlboro Man after a Fallujah photo of him was broadcast around the country and world, will be honored this week "for his willingness to speak about combat-related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)." Read the press release and join me in celebrating a well-deserved nod to his important advocacy work. He's helping a lot of people who are returning home from combat.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From the US Newswire press release:

The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) will honor Iraq War veteran Blake Miller -- widely known as the new 'Marlboro Man' -- for his willingness to speak about combat-related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). NMHA will present Miller with a forWARDS(tm) award Thursday, June 8, at its Annual Meeting. NMHA developed the forWARDS(tm) to pay tribute to the people, actions and events that move the cause of mental health forward each year.

"I am grateful for what I do have," said Miller. "But I know for a fact that there are guys who went through way worse than I did and are afraid to come forward. Hopefully, the more I talk about PTSD the better off the military will be. That's all I care about."

In 2004, Miller landed in the middle of an intense, all night firefight in Fallujah, Iraq. When it was over he lit a cigarette. In the blink of an eye, Los Angeles Times photographer Luis Sinco took a single, solitary picture that thrust Miller into the international spotlight where he became an instant icon of the war in Iraq.

"Blake Miller represents the very best our country has to offer," said Dr. David Shern, president and CEO of NMHA. "Not only has he served the United States proudly but he has become an outspoken advocate on behalf of all Americans and military personnel facing, and living with, mental health problems."

After combat, Miller was discharged from the military and quickly found himself in a world of chaos and uncertainty all too common to war veterans -- the world of PTSD. For the past two years, Miller has lived with a constant rollercoaster of flashbacks, sleepless nights and outbursts of anger.

"From day one, (the Marines) teach you that you are indestructible," adds Miller, recalling his experience with PTSD. "A marine will give his all. You have to understand that to understand PTSD."

According to the Government Accountability Office, 26 percent of returning soldiers report symptoms of mental disorders, and the Department of Defense reports that one in six troops meet the screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety disorder or PTSD. Because of this, NMHA has launched an awareness campaign, Operation Healthy Reunions, to educate Americans and support returning veterans, their loved ones and employers.

Miller and Sinco will be available for interviews throughout NMHA's Annual Meeting, June 7 through 10. To schedule an interview, please contact Bridget Toland at 703-837-4787 or bridgett@nmha.org.

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The National Mental Health Association is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness. With more than 340 affiliates nationwide, NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research and service.

Others who will be honored by the NMHA along with Miller include actress and author Brooke Shields, New Jersey Senate President Richard Codey and his wife Mrs. Mary Jo Codey. "Featured guests include former First Lady and leading mental health advocate, Mrs. Rosalynn Carter, and former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and healthcare reform leader, Newt Gingrich."

Congratulations all around!


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