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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Patrick Kennedy Will Step Down

Congressman Patrick Kennedy with his late father, Senator Ted Kennedy

"Going forward I will continue many of the fights we waged together, particularly on behalf of those suffering from depression, addiction, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder," Kennedy said in a quote drawn from the video by AFP.

Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, will step down and not seek a ninth term in the House of Representatives. Patrick Kennedy is an ambitious statesman who made the suffering his first priority; his work set the ball in motion for serious health care reform. Patrick struggled for years with drugs and alcohol as well as being diagnosed with a debilitating bipolar disorder. When Patrick found sobriety four years ago he made it his personal mission to completely reform health care in America. Kennedy thanked Rhode Island voters for their continued support despite his dealings with addiction. "When I made missteps or suffered setbacks, you responded not with contempt, but compassion. Thank you for all the times you lifted me up, pushed me forward and filled my heart with hope".

In 2008, Kennedy founded and heads up, the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus; he worked hand and hand with Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici in the creation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Kennedy, in short, has become the voice of the addiction community in a number of ways; he has battled to help the disenfranchised at every opportunity.

Retired Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.), commented on Kennedy's decision to step down, "a huge loss for people with mental illness and addiction, as Patrick Kennedy was their greatest champion in Washington". Ramstad co-sponsored the House version of the parity bill; he understands better than most the caliber of statesmen that Rhode Island and the whole nation will be losing. There are many United States citizens that suffer from the disease of addiction, in many ways, it takes an addict to understand an addict; there are not many politicians who have the back of the addicted and mentally disabled. During his career, Patrick Kennedy fought for reforms in: health care, juvenile justice, the parity bill, and he secured the channeling of more federal funding for addiction programs.

"Patrick's courageous admissions of his own struggles with bipolar disease and alcoholism have helped reduce the stigma of these diseases, and his personal recovery has been a great inspiration to many people. Were Patrick Kennedy's uncle, President Kennedy, still alive and were President Kennedy to write a sequel to Profiles in Courage, his nephew Patrick would occupy a full chapter", said Ramstad.

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