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Buzz Aldrin, Sc.D. and Scott Rauch, M.D.

Buzz Aldrin, Sc.D. (on left) and Scott Rauch, M.D., President and Psychiatrist in Chief of McLean Hospital and Chair of Partners Psychiatry and Mental Health (on right).

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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Honored by McLean Hospital

At its 2009 annual dinner, McLean Hospital honored astronaut, pioneer and author Buzz Aldrin, ScD, for his candor about his personal struggles with alcoholism and depression and his commitment to raising awareness about psychiatric illness.  The event was held on July 14 at the InterContinental Hotel in Boston, with 350 guests.

On July 20, 1969, Aldrin's Apollo 11 lunar walk made him one of the most famous people on Earth, yet few people know the rest of his story.  Following his return to earth, Aldrin battled depression and alcoholism, and the ensuing personal and professional consequences of these illnesses.

“From the pinnacle of Apollo, my greatest challenge became the human one—overcoming alcoholism and living beyond depression—a challenge that required more courage and determination than going to the moon,” writes Aldrin in his new New York Times best selling memoir “Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon.”

Aldrin struggled with alcohol for years before seeking treatment. Sober since 1978, he has been a committed mental health advocate, speaking candidly about his struggles and encouraging others to seek treatment.

“Dr. Aldrin is an American hero, whose strength and courage in overcoming substance abuse and depression are inspirational to those of us in the field of psychiatry and for the millions of Americans who struggle with these difficulties,” said Scott Rauch, MD, president and psychiatrist in chief for McLean. “I applaud Dr. Aldrin for his candor and we are honored to recognize his triumphs and his steadfast commitment to the mental health community with the McLean Award.”

The prestigious McLean Award is given annually to an individual who has furthered the public's understanding of psychiatric illness and mental health. The McLean Award was bestowed for the first time last year to ABC News journalist Lee Woodruff and her husband ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff, who sustained a life-threatening traumatic brain injury while covering the war in Iraq.

McLean Honors Lee and Bob Woodruff (2008)