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Rerras feels nicked by Northam flyer
October 10, 2007 - Eastern Shore News

To the editor:

As your State Senator, it is very important to me that we do all we can to help those who suffer from mental illness. I have a solid record of supporting increased funding for mental health services.

It is imperative that we strengthen Virginia's mental health services. I will continue to do all I can to increase funding for community mental health services, including assistance for treatment, medications, therapy, emergency services, and employment services. These mental health services will help many who suffer, and will help prevent needless tragedies in the future.

I was appalled when I read Dr. Ralph Northam's most recent, untrue mail pieces that wrongly and viciously attacked my character and my support for mental health services. I am very disappointed to see that instead of making recommendations for improving Virginia's mental health system, my opponent has instead resorted to untrue personal attacks.

To make untrue statements concerning mental illness and my support for our military men and women is inexcusable. My oldest son, Nicholas, is currently an infantry soldier who is serving in the Virginia Army National Guard, and is also in the Army ROTC program at Old Dominion University. My daughter, Helena, is serving in the U.S. Army ROTC program at ODU where she is a nursing major.

I served in the U.S. Army myself, as a member of the 9th Infantry Division.

I understand the sacrifices that our brave service men and women make, and the stresses that they endure.

I did not say the harsh things my opponent claims in his negative mailers. My opponent's vicious campaign mailers are untrue and cruel to those who suffer from mental illness and their families. I am greatly surprised that someone with my opponent's record of service would resort to false attack to get elected.

I care deeply about people who suffer from mental illness and as your State Senator for the past eight years, I have consistently supported legislation and increased funding to assist with mental health treatment programs. I think the voters of the 6th Senate District recognize these attacks for what they are -- a desperate attempt to defame me for political gain.

My support for improved mental health services includes: Consistently supported increases in funding for mental health services. A few of the major initiatives are (2006-2008 budget):

  • $9.6 million for community-based mental health recovery services, community mental health services such as, in-home residential supports, counseling, and other services;
  • $9.4 million for crisis stabilization services;
  • $4.8 million for mental health services for children and adolescents;
  • $3.3 million to increase Medicaid payments for inpatient psychiatric hospital services;
  • $2.2 million for mental health services in juvenile detention centers;
  • $1 million for jail diversion services for individuals with mental illness;
  • Supported additional funding of the Community Service Boards. (Budget)
  • Sponsored a bill that year that clarified the services provided by Community Service Boards. (SB413, 2002)
  • Strongly supports additional funding for community treatment facilities that will provide high quality care - these programs have proven effective in getting people treated and employed. (Budget)
  • Supports the Mental Health Court docket in the Norfolk court system that has proven effective in facilitating treatment for those who suffer from mental illness;
  • Co-sponsored the Virginia Caregivers Grant Program which provides a grant to individuals who provide care to a physically or mentally impaired relative who requires assistance (SB935,2005);
  • Supported a resolution that encourages the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services to provide nonfinancial assistance in developing demonstration projects designed to divert individuals with mental illness, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders from jail or secure detention (SJ81, 2004);
  • Supported encouraging the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice to include an evaluation and reporting component in any new mental health or substance abuse treatment initiative that is established for offenders in their custody (SJ88, 2004);
  • I am also in support of new mental health reforms such as expanding the successful implementation of crisis stabilization units throughout Virginia to improve access for the patients in the greatest need. Increasing the number of stabilization units will provide important access to treatment for those in emergency situations.

I look forward to supporting several of the mental health recommendations issued by the review panel established by Gov. Tim Kaine in response to the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech earlier this year.

The 6th District deserves to have someone represent them who cares about people and has a record of accomplishments. I will continue to work hard to represent my constituents to the best of my ability, and I ask that the voters reject the negative and untrue campaigning from my opponent.

As your state senator, I represent the Eastern Shore, Mathews County, and parts of the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Thank you for allowing me to serve you in the Virginia Senate, and I ask for your vote on Nov. 6th.

Sen. Nick Rerras

Nick Rerras for VA State Senate
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