published Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Betty Ford's courageous struggle

Americans of all political views were saddened by the death late last week of former first lady Betty Ford.

She was 93.

She went to the White House in 1974, when Gerald Ford became president after Richard Nixon resigned. She made at least two visits to Chattanooga, including a stop at Lovell Field and a visit to the Southern Railway station.

She was outspoken but gracious as first lady.

However, her public profile grew after she left the White House and revealed her struggle with alcohol and painkillers. She told the nation that she was seeking treatment for her problems.

While those circumstances were painful for her and her family, she was credited with helping bring addiction issues into the open and with encouraging people to seek help. In 1982, she co-founded the now-famous Betty Ford Center in California. Tens of thousands of people have since sought help for their addictions at the nonprofit clinic.

President Barack Obama rightly declared after Ford’s death that she had given “countless Americans a new lease on life.”

She will be missed not only by family and friends, but by millions of Americans who admired her graciousness as first lady and her courage in facing her personal struggles and helping others face theirs.

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