Ever since we lost Amber I knew what my mission was. I had to stand up and help people suffering with mental illness (including addiction). I never thought of it, but I guess I also suffer from mental illness. I have been battling depression for years, I suffer severe panic attacks. My doctor has me on medicine and if I don’t take it I notice a huge difference in myself.

I have been talking to a lot of people who are advocates for mental illness, addiction is a mental illness and is listed in the DSM-5.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) is the product of more than 10 years of effort by hundreds of international experts in all aspects of mental health. Their dedication and hard work have yielded an authoritative volume that defines and classifies mental disorders in order to improve diagnoses, treatment, and research.

I am so amazed on the people that I have met and worked with. Just so many inspiring and passionate people who want to help others. One thing that they all share is compassion and empathy. They are not judging people, they just want to help. They are sharing their experiences with the goal of helping others. The more you know of other people suffering and their life stories, the more you realize how many people from so many different types of backgrounds are affected.I am lucky that I am also involved in our local school district, I was elected as a school board director a few months after Amber passed away. Since that time I have had wonderful teamwork with administrators and staff in the schools to bring more programs to the students and community. This is something that I am so proud of. There are so many people that are working on the programs and they are doing great.Recently, we had a task force meeting where we looked at some new programs. One program in particular that we want to implement is Reality Tour, I have attended and had the honor to get to know Norma who founded the program. She is a very dedicated woman who has assembled an amazing team to build and keep Reality Tour updated on a regular basis.

What we are looking at is how to bring this program to the community, not have this be a district program but a community program. The district would be partnering with the communities to help, the task force has members from each of the local police departments as well as EMS, local business, state representative and recovery advocates.

This is just the beginning, we are working hard and will not be stopped. We have a very important mission, to save lives! I will be writing more about this as we progress.