Last night the stars came out to the Paramount Theater at Paramount Studios to honor the portrayal of honest and thoughtful depictions of soldiers grappling with mental health issues — most often post-traumatic stress disorder — on television and in the movies.
The event was the annual Voice Awards, hosted by the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Emmy Award-winning actor Hector Elizondo and Academy Award-winning actor Louis Gossett, Jr., kept the crowd interested with their co-hosting of the event.
An early ad hoc reference to working with Hector Elizondo by the first award presenter led to a running joke throughout the event about how various presenters were connected with the actor (even when they weren’t). Elizondo took it in good nature.
Louis Gossett Jr. was a forceful presence whenever he took the stage to announce the next presenter. The two-and-a-half-hour ceremony ended with an award given to “The Dry Land,” a drama written and directed by Ryan Piers Williams about a soldier who returns home from war who struggles to reconcile his experiences abroad with the life and family he left in Texas. It co-stars America Ferrera with Ryan O’Nan.
“The Dry Land’s” America Ferrera (better known as the actress who played Betty in “Ugly Betty”), “Parenthood’s” Peter Krause, “Temple Grandin’s” Julia Ormond, “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Sandra Oh, “Sesame Street’s” Elmo, and “Ugly Betty’s” Marc Indelicato and Tony Plana are among the array of actors from nominated programs who presented awards at this event.
The award program this year focused on the countless contributions of America’s military men and women. It focused on the behavioral health issues they face as they return home from the battlefield to their communities and their families.
Awards were also handed out to outstanding leaders in the behavioral health recovery movement who promote the social inclusion of people with behavioral health problems and exemplify the real possibility of recovery.
The 2010 Voice Awards entertainment winners are:
SAMHSA also honored former First Lady Rosalynn Carter with the SAMHSA Special Career Recognition Award for her work in championing mental health awareness.
Carter’s 40-year campaign to improve the mental health system and to educate American families, including military families, about behavioral health has reduced prejudice and discrimination and encouraged more people to seek recovery.
A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Moe Armstrong of West Haven, Conn., for his leadership and contributions to the behavioral health recovery movement.
Armstrong first experienced and was hospitalized for psychiatric symptoms at age 21 while serving in the Vietnam War. Later, he became an advocate for people with mental health and substance use issues and founded the Vet-to-Vet Program, which uses a peer support model with veterans helping other veterans deal with behavioral health issues and support resiliency and recovery. The program now operates in veterans’ centers in 39 cities around the country, and Armstrong said he would be joining the Veterans Administration to help further with their peer programs.
The Voice Awards also bestowed Consumer Leadership Awards on five consumer leaders:
The Voice Awards also presented the Young Adult Leadership Award to Lorrin Gehring of Provo, Utah. These individuals were honored for their work to promote community acceptance and support to facilitate recovery for people with mental illness.
“SAMHSA is grateful to the writers and producers of these stories for bringing national attention to the plight and courage of people with behavioral health conditions and their families. The outstanding works we honor tonight can have a profound impact and advance public understanding of mental illnesses and addictions,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D.
“SAMHSA is also pleased to recognize national consumer leaders with Voice Awards. These individuals have walked the walk and shared the story to help others find their way. Thanks to these leaders, more people know the power of recovery.”