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Arlington, VA., March 20, 2012 – The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has issued the following statement by Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick to address issues reflected in the case of U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Bales:
"After 20 years of U.S. military experience in the Middle East and in light of the recent killing of 16 Afghan villagers by a soldier who news reports indicate may have experienced mental health problems, it is clear that the system of identification, diagnosis and intervention for ongoing invisible wounds of soldiers serving America, as well as concern, care and accountability, is not what it should be.
NAMI deplores any and all unnecessary killing at home or abroad. We recognize the suffering of all victims of war, including their families and loved ones.
NAMI offers expertise and partnership in developing protocols that will lead to education of those who are in positions of leadership, responsibility and accountability, at all levels in our armed forces, with the purpose of helping to avoid future tragedies.
NAMI also believes that strong programs of education and advocacy, coupled with accountability at all levels of management and command in both civilian and military settings, will lead to removal of the stigma of seeking help for mental illness and invisible wounds and will lead to healing and recovery. We pledge to continue our efforts for the good of our warriors, our veterans and their families and for all of those who are affected by the invisible wounds of war and mental illness."
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope.