Former First Lady Carter: Make Military Families A Priority

Pres. and Mrs. Carter hold their annual "conversation" with the public Tuesday at the Carter Center, Atlanta.

Those familiar with this blog know it came into existence as part of my yearlong fellowship with the Rosalynn Carter Center for Mental Health Journalism. I am winding up three days at the Carter Center in Atlanta that mark  the end of my fellowship, but not the end to this blog. We have only begun to delve into the issues and there are many more voices to be heard.

Outgoing and incoming Rosalynn Carter Fellows have spent the past two days learning about new research, discussing mental health stigma and exchanging ideas about our projects all focused on improving the public’s understanding of mental health whether it be anxiety and depression or Post Traumatic Stress and suicide.

What I think many may not know is that Mrs. Carter is involved directly. She sits in on all the sessions and participates. I had the privilege today to present the stories of veterans, military families and active duty members who I’ve interviewed over the year. The former first lady listened to the voices of blog contributors Cheyenne Forsythe and Colleen Krepstekies. She read the blog entries of Jackie Dorr and Tracie Ciambotti.

And she heard directly from blog contributor Dorie Griggs, who lives in Roswell, and was able to attend today’s session. Dorie did a great job explaining her journey of becoming a military mom. Tonight, Mrs. Carter and President Jimmy Carter held their annual “conversation” with the public. They talked about The Carter Center’s projects curing disease in Africa, conflict resolution and election monitoring. Mrs. Carter talked about her fellowship program which is in its 15th year and has supported and educated more than 100 journalists including me.

During her talk tonight, she mentioned hearing the voices of veterans and told a packed audience that military families – especially those with the Reserves and National Guard – need support. It is one of many stories I and others will pursue.

So for those of you who are military – Mrs. Carter has your “six” – and for civilians such as myself – her marching orders are to build support for those families in your communities.

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