Founded in 2005 by psychologist Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, Give an Hour has grown exponentially in its efforts to meet the mental health needs of active duty service members, veterans, and their families. We enlist licensed mental health professionals to donate an hour of their time each week for over a year. As of May 2014, nearly 7,000 volunteer professionals have joined our network and offered their services, giving more than 119,000 hours, valued at over $12 million.
As our network grows, we see the need for additional orientations and trainings for these wonderful volunteers, as well as expanded outreach to make sure the military community is aware of our services. Give an Hour operates with a small staff and very low overhead but still needs financial resources to continue to meet the demand for our services, which is increasing as the troops return home.The generosity of friends like you gives us valuable resources to continue to serve those who have served and their loved ones.
About Give an Hour
Give an Hour™ is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) founded in September 2005 by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a psychologist in the Washington, D.C., area, to meet the mental health needs of the troops and families affected by the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The organization has created a national network of mental health professionals who are providing free, easily accessible, and confidential counseling to U.S. troops, veterans, their loved ones, and their communities. Those looking for services, visit our website (www.giveanhour.org) and type in their zipcode in order to receive a list of providers in their area. In addition to direct counseling, Give an Hour’s providers are working to reduce the stigma associated with mental health treatment by participating in and leading education, training, and outreach efforts in schools, communities, and military bases. Currently, the network has nearly 7,000 providers, who have collectively given more than $12 million worth of services through counseling to military families and consultation to employers, first responders, schools, and VSOs. Give an Hour has also become a leader in organizing communities to provide a comprehensive and integrated system of care for military families.
What is the issue, problem, or challenge?
Since September 2001 over 2.6 million military service members have deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, many more than once and some as many as 5 or 6 times. Symptoms of mental health difficulties, including PTSD and TBI, are as high as 35% among these veterans, yet only about half have sought treatment. Suicide rates are soaring. Family members suffer from loved ones' deployments, too. Everyone is affected by experience of war; those who have served—and their loved ones—need help dealing with aftereffects of their service. The military is trying to address these issues but does not have enough resources and cannot reach everyone in need of help.
How will this project solve this problem?
Give an Hour enlists volunteer mental health professionals to donate 1 hour per week to provide free, easily accessible, confidential counseling to military personnel and their loved ones. Studies show that timely attention and counseling can make a huge difference in the success of treating mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress. GAH has licensed volunteers across the U.S., available to counsel those who are not covered by military health care, not located near a VA or military base, or who prefer to seek care outside the current system.
Potential Long-Term Impact
Delivering free counseling to our country's troops and loved ones can potentially help millions of Americans, since for each military member deployed, 8-10 family members are directly affected. Of those deployed, 40 percent--nearly 800,000--are parents with 1 or more children; almost 35,000 troops have been separated from their children for 4 or more deployments. Many will suffer, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression will cost our nation as much as $6.2 billion in the 2 years after a deployment.
"After returning from Afghanistan, I went through two years of drug use, ended up homeless, and got arrested. Thanks to free counseling through GAH, I have my life back: a husband, a daughter, and a job."
-- Jennifer Crane, beneficiary of counseling, now GAH spokesperson