Saturday, August 28, 2010

Aldrin 'shares experience, strength and hope'

Buzz Aldrin, 80, whose autobiography "Return to Earth" following the first manned landing on the Moon in 1969 pioneered the removal of the public stigma once attached to alcoholism and depression, spoke about that struggle in Yakima, Washington, August 26 [Sara].

Ross Courtney
Yakima Herald-Republic

Buzz Aldrin applied the same patience and commitment he used to reach the moon to battle the depression he faced after returning.

The second man to walk on the moon was in Yakima on Thursday to give the keynote address at the 25th annual Merrill Scott Symposium on Alcoholism and Other Chemical Addictions.

Aldrin talked briefly with reporters in the lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn before speaking to about 450 people at the annual event, sponsored by the Sundown M Ranch chemical dependency treatment facility in Selah.

The 80-year-old former astronaut said he planned to share his personal story about the depression he suffered after returning from the historic 1969 moon landing with Neil Armstrong.

Aldrin said he struggled to cope with his sudden fame and lack of structure, after spending years in a meticulously structured environment during his astronaut training.

"The challenges that faced me were not going to the moon, but it was the aftermath of a tremendously changed lifestyle," he said.

Aldrin detailed many of his struggles -- which also included mental illness, alcoholism and a divorce -- in his 1973 book "Return to Earth."

Aldrin is one of the highest on a list of high-profile speakers to keynote the annual workshop, said Scott Munson, executive director of Sundown M Ranch.

Peter Yarrow of the folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary headlined last year. He, like many of the other speakers, related personal stories of addiction, Munson said.

With reporters Tuesday, Aldrin also shared a few strong opinions on the nation's current space endeavors.

He criticized plans to terminate the space shuttle program later this year with nothing to replace it, but does not believe the U.S. should send another man to the moon.

Read the full article, HERE.