**Web Video Available**Web video link available here:
Washington, D.C. –In a speech on the Senate floor, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) recognized the late Dr. Mildred Mitchell-Bateman, a distinguished physician, teacher, and pioneer in West Virginia. She was also first African American woman to lead named as the director of the State's Department of Mental Health, becoming the first African-American woman to lead a West Virginia State agency.
Full text of the speech is available below.
Mr. President, I also rise today to recognize the accomplishments and life of a mental health pioneer and a most beautiful and true West Virginia hero, who we were so sad to lose last month. It is only fitting to honor her today on the last day of Black History Month.
Dr. Mildred Mitchell-Bateman leaves behind a remarkable legacy. She transformed care for mentally ill patients by working tirelessly to provide hope to people who were once believed to be untreatable. Her work emphasized the importance of family and community--two values we hold so dear in West Virginia--and she put a high priority on making sure people received care near their homes.
Mildred Mitchell made West Virginia her home in 1946, when she was hired as a staff physician at West Virginia's Lakin State Hospital, which at the time was a hospital for mentally ill patients who were African American. There she met and married her husband William L. Bateman, a therapist at Lakin and a native West Virginian.
Throughout her 89 years, Mildred Mitchell-Bateman remained committed to serving those without a voice in our community. After leaving Lakin to practice medicine privately, Mildred returned to the hospital as the clinical director, and 3 years later was promoted to superintendent. In 1962, Mildred was named as the director of the State's Department of Mental Health, becoming the first African-American woman to lead a West Virginia State agency.
Mildred's vision for psychiatric care extended beyond West Virginia, earning her national recognition and requests for service. In 1973, she became the first Black woman to serve as vice president of the American Psychiatric Association. A short time later, she was appointed to the President's Commission on Mental Health, where she played an important role in the creation of the 1980 Mental Health Systems Act.
Dr. Mitchell-Bateman was a doctor, a teacher, and a pioneer. Her accomplishments are made even more remarkable by the adversity she faced. Her life serves as a powerful example to us all of what one can accomplish with conviction, dedication, and true West Virginia grit.
Mildred Mitchell-Bateman will forever be remembered for her many years of dedicated service to the Mountain State, her passion and dedication to the mental health community, and for touching the lives of so many patients. On top of that, she was also a loving mother to seven children, and a very proud grandmother to ten wonderful grandchildren.
Gayle and I are keeping the Mitchell-Bateman families in our hearts and prayers. While we know that Mildred Mitchell-Bateman is gone, her legacy and service to the people of West Virginia will keep her alive in our hearts forever.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.