January 9, 2009
The Helena Independent Record reports that President-elect Barack Obama has recognized Matt Kuntz, executive director of NAMI Montana, for his "extraordinary contributions" to America and has invited Kuntz to celebrate the inauguration in Washington, D.C.
The former West Point Army officer was working as an attorney when his step-brother Chris Dana, a Montana National Guard soldier, died by suicide in 2007. Dana lived with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a tour of duty in Iraq.
After Dana’s death, Kuntz spearheaded an effort to raise awareness about PTSD in Montana. He left his legal career to become a full-time advocate with NAMI Montana and last year, the Montana National Guard implemented a new mental health screening program for returning soldiers.
During a campaign stop in Billings, Obama met with Kuntz to discuss mental health support for returning soldiers. The President-elect expressed interest in expanding the Montana Guard program nationally.
Kuntz will travel with Obama on a Whistle Stop Tour to Washington. He and his wife also will attend the inaugural ball.