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USPS unveils Betty Ford stamp

The dedication ceremony will take place April 5 in Rancho Mirage, CA

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy addresses attendees at the White House ceremony. From left are Susan Ford Bales, Jill Biden, Dr. Joseph Lee and DeJoy.

The Postal Service has revealed the artwork of a commemorative Forever stamp celebrating the life and legacy of former First Lady Betty Ford.

The stamp design was unveiled March 6 at the White House by First Lady Jill Biden; Postmaster General Louis DeJoy; Susan Ford Bales, Ford’s daughter; and Dr. Joseph Lee, president and chief executive officer of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

The stamp dedication ceremony will be held Friday, April 5 — three days before the 106th anniversary of her birth. The event will take place at Eisenhower Health, a hospital in Rancho Mirage, CA.

“Betty Ford changed the role of first lady,” said DeJoy. “She used the role not just as a platform to represent the nation and advance and support her husband, she used it to speak openly and honestly about issues she cared about, and about personal issues she faced.”

Men and women on a dais in front of a large portrait.
The ceremony participants unveil the stamp image.

Born Elizabeth Anne Bloomer in 1918, she married Gerald R. Ford in 1948. He was elected that year to the first of 13 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Gerald Ford was appointed vice president in December 1973 after Spiro Agnew resigned.

When the Watergate scandal forced the resignation of President Richard Nixon on Aug. 9, 1974, Ford became the 38th president.

He is the first person to hold both offices without having been elected president or vice president.

Betty Ford was first lady from 1974 to 1977.

The new first lady impressed the American public in interviews by showing humor and frankness about controversial issues facing the country.

“Mom would be humbled and grateful beyond words for the extraordinary tribute of her commemorative stamp,” said Bales. “To Mom, the stamp would be a heartwarming reminder of millions of breast cancer and substance use disorder survivors who have overcome their diseases and individually added to her legacy of candor and courage.”

While the Fords never intended to inhabit the White House, Betty Ford embraced the role, becoming the most politically outspoken first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt and helping mold the position’s modern role.

Throughout her husband’s political career, Ford openly fought for women’s rights, often conflicting with the stances of her husband’s political party. She campaigned tirelessly for the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have mandated constitutional equality for all Americans, regardless of gender.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Ford underwent a mastectomy on Sept. 28, 1974. While medical issues of previous first ladies weren’t always disclosed, she chose to share the story of her treatment for the once-taboo medical condition.

In 1964, Ford had begun taking prescription pain pills for a pinched nerve in her neck, developing a substance use disorder over time. In 1978, after an intervention, she entered the Naval Regional Medical Hospital in Long Beach, CA, for treatment. As with her breast cancer, she publicly acknowledged her substance use disorder, changing its perception and putting a face to the disease.

In 1982, Ford and former ambassador and close family friend Leonard Firestone established the Betty Ford Center for substance dependency. She agreed to lend her name to the center, hoping to destigmatize substance use disorder treatment at a time when it wasn’t spoken about openly — especially by women — and options for treatment were scarce.

Her work helped change the way treatment options and those seeking it are viewed by American society.

Gerald Ford died in 2006 and Betty Ford died in 2011.

The stamp honoring Betty Ford will be issued in panes of 20.