With the passing of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, psychology lost a true friend. The second longest serving Senator in our nation's history, he represented Hawai'i since statehood in 1959. He would often remark that he might have been a good psychologist. His deep wisdom, acute observation and discerning judgment of people would indeed have made him an excellent clinician. He was proud that several of his close friends, including the daughter of his mentor, former Hawai'i Gov. John A. Burns, had chosen our profession. Colleagues Patricia Zell, PhD, Connie Chan, PhD, Ruby Takanishi, PhD, and Debra Dunivin, PhD, served with him.
Sen. Inouye was a fierce fighter for what he believed in — the right of all Americans to have necessary health care, higher education, meaningful employment and a fulfilling quality of life. He was the champion, at times alone, for many of psychology's fundamental values – ethnic-minority fellowships, American Indians into Psychology, ensuring that clients have access to the all-important psychosocial-cultural-economic gradient of care (i.e., psychological services) and the pressing needs of rural America. The human side of the military was always foremost in his mind: establishing the military family support program, facilitating all disciplines serving to the fullest extent of their training (prescriptive authority) and being promoted to the highest level.
Never forgetting his roots, he established visionary programs for Native Hawaiians and — always willing to work accross the aisle for good causes — for Alaskan Natives. The American Indian museum in Washington, D.C., pays tribute to his amazing successes. Throughout his illustrious career, children and families remained one of his highest priorities; he established the pediatric-EMS program and the Office of Adolescent Health. "Children are much more than ‘little adults' having unique needs and strengths," Sen. Inouye said.
On the national scene, he provided much-needed leadership at critical times: the infamous 1968 Chicago Democratic convention, Watergate and Iran-Contra; and passionately reminded our nation immediately after 9/11 of the lessons we must learn from the inexcusable World War II Japanese-American internment hysteria. A Medal of Honor recipient, he was one of the first elected officials to speak out against the war in Vietnam, changing his earlier position. He could have been the vice presidential candidate with Hubert Humphrey but appreciated the nation was not ready for such a monumental statement. We have since made significant progress in race relations.
He was proud to have voted for the original civil rights legislation, Medicare and Medicaid, and recently President Obama's landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. During the Clinton administration he arranged for then-APA President Frank Farley, PhD, to meet with the First Lady to discuss the critical importance of psychology. Over the years he sponsored nearly all of APA's legislative agendas, and those of nursing, pharmacy and social work. As Dr. Chan eloquently reflects: "I was honored to work in his office one summer as an APA MFP Congressional intern. He was always an advocate for psychology and for psychological treatment and services. He was one of the most informed legislators on health policy issues in the country. He will be missed." Aloha.
Former APA President Patrick H. DeLeon, PhD, JD, worked for Sen. Inouye for nearly 40 years and retired as his chief of staff in 2011.
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