Thursday, July 1, 2010

3rd Day at NAMI National Convention

What a day on Capitol Hill!  We began our day with an inspiring pep talk from Patrick Kennedy to get us ready for our legislative visits on Capitol Hill.  He told us that "your mere presence is the greatest lobbying you can do!"

Referring to equality for people with mental illness, Kennedy said, "If Martin Luther King were alive today... If my uncles were alive today... this is the fight they would be fighting for civil rights." 

We made our way to the Capitol.  There was a large group from Pa. and we all wore sashes and stickers announcing "Mental Heath Care Gets My Vote."  Below you can see Darcey, Debbie and Chris from the NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania office. 

We began our day in Sen. Robert P. Casey's office followed by a visit to Sen. Arlen Specter's office and then Congressman Joe Sestak's office.  After lunch in the Senate cafeteria, we stopped by Congressman Jason Altmire's office followed by a visit to Congressman Tim Murphy, pictured below in the gray suit. 

With each visit, we delivered a packet of information with our briefing issues and what we are urging the Congress to do.  We pushed for an extension of the higher federal Medicaid match rate (known as FMAP), spoke about pressing children's issues and discussed the decriminalization of mental illness among several other important issues. 

Below, Congressman Murphy's Communications Director took photos of our group -- NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania along with our friends at Allegheny Family Network -- meeting with the Congressman. 

After our legislative visits, we made it back to the convention just in time to catch the plenary session featuring a high-level Obama Administration official speaking about health care reform and an overview of the State of NAMI by National NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick.

That was immediately followed by Candidate Speeches for the National NAMI Board of Directors and then our Pa. State Caucus, which ran well into the evening.

We are winding down for the night, looking forward to another packed day at the convention tomorrow.

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