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Since 1962, the year Jimmy Carter was elected state senator of Georgia, Rosalynn has been active the political arena. As first lady of Georgia, Rosalynn was appointed to the Governor's Commission to Improve Services for the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped. The Commission presented recommendations to Governor Carter, many of which were approved and then became law. Rosalynn also served as a volunteer at the Georgia Regional Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia and for five years was honorary chairperson for the Georgia Special Olympics for Retarded Children .
In January 1975, when her husband's gubernatorial term was over, Mr. Carter, along with Rosalynn and Amy, went back to Plains. He had already announced his plans to run for President of the United States. Rosalynn returned to the campaign trail, this time in a national quest for support for her husband. She campaigned alone on his behalf in 41 states.
During the months she was campaigning across the country, Rosalynn was elected to the board of directors of the National Association of Mental Health; she was honored by the National Organization for Women with an Award of Merit for her vigorous support for the Equal Rights Amendment; and she received the volunteer of the Year Award from the Southwestern Association of Volunteer Services.
During her years in the White House, Rosalynn was honored by many organizations and received a handful of awards. She served as honorary chair of the President's Commission on Mental Health, the work of which resulted in the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act. She was also named the Volunteer of the Decade by the National Mental Health Association.
Since returning to Plains, Mrs. Carter has received the Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished Service Award for Leadership Christian Social Ethics from the Christian Life Commission of in the Southern Baptist Convention and in August of 1983, she was elected to the board of directors of the Gannett Company, Inc. In April 1984, Mrs. Carter became a member of the board of advisors of Habitat for Humanity, Inc. Her autobiography, First Lady from Plains, was published in May 1984. That same month, she was made an Honorary Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and is also board member emeritus of the National Mental Health Association.