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Betty Ford forever postage stamp is unveiled at the White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new forever postage stamp bearing the portrait of former first lady Betty Ford was unveiled Wednesday afternoon in the East Room of the White House.

And if there was a theme to the unveiling event, it focused on how the wife of 38th President Gerald Ford used the worst episodes in her life to help others overcome their own.

Ford, who died in 2011, was an advocate for women’s health and breast cancer awareness, having undergone breast cancer surgery in 1974. She also established treatment centers around the country that are credited with helping generations of Americans overcome addiction — after she publicly revealed in 1978 that she struggled with prescription medication and alcohol addiction.

First lady Jill Biden, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, Ford’s daughter Susan Ford Bales and the president of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Joseph Lee attended the stamp unveiling Wednesday — and spoke about Ford’s contributions to future generations of women and people seeking treatment.

Biden said Ford’s “journey reminds us that we are not defined by our worst moments, but rather our ability to turn life’s inevitable pain and struggle into purpose.”

Standing next to the portrait of Ford, wearing a powder blue dress that matched the hues of the stamp, Bales said her mother “demonstrated by word and deed that in seeking treatment for what some might call personal weakness is in truth the hopeful pathway to renewal.”

Lee called Ford a “national treasure” because, for people struggling with sickness and addiction, she replaced “shame and isolation with dignity, community and equitable care. For the first time, millions of people in this country felt seen for the very first time.”

The stamp will be available starting April 5, and a dedication ceremony for the stamp will take place at Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage, California.

She is the seventh first lady to be honored with a U.S. postage stamp.