Give an Hour

Give an Hour was founded to meet the mental health needs of the troops and families affected by the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Over 300,000 returning troops suffer from severe depression or PTSD, over 320,000 have suffered a traumatic brain injury, and only half have sought treatment.) Licensed mental health providers commit to donate an hour of free counseling per week.
May 22, 2014

The Need for Mental Health Care for Military Family Members

Justin working with students on a service project
Justin working with students on a service project

All of us at Give an Hour are grateful for the support received from so many donors through GlobalGiving, which continues to make possible the ongoing work providing counseling to active duty service members, veterans, and their loved ones. The most recent survey of our volunteer providers tells us that the demand for Give an Hour’s services is growing. As of May, 2014, 119,200 hours were reported donated, an increase of more than 7,000 hours in the past three months.

The experience of war will continue to affect those who serve and their families for years and decades to come, and the mental health community has the opportunity to play a critical role in their healing. We are proud of our partnerships and relationships with the major mental health associations. Together, we are doing great work to reduce the stigma associated with mental health care.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Military Appreciation Month. There is no better time to get involved, whether or not you are a mental health provider. In addition to donating through Global Giving, a very simple way is to follow Give an Hour on social media channels and to share our news and messages with your networks. We will continue to update you with reports on Global Giving, too.

As all counseling through Give an Hour is provided on a totally confidential basis, we can not share many personal stories, except for those by people who ask us to share them, such as the following by Justin Constantine. A wounded warrior who has decided to make helping others his life mission, he hopes that sharing his own story will inspire others to seek the help they need.

 Justin Constantine, Lt. Col (retired), Marine Corps Reserve, volunteered for deployment to Iraq in 2006 and served in the Al-Anbar Province as a team leader of a group of marines performing civil affairs work while attached to an infantry battalion. While on a routine combat patrol six weeks into his deployment, he was shot in the head by a sniper. Thanks to his fellow marines and the courage and skill of a U.S. Navy corpsman, Mr. Constantine survived. Through teamwork and a positive mental attitude, which includes a willingness to openly discuss issues surrounding his injuries, he has had quite a successful recovery, which has included receiving counseling through Give an Hour. Although Justin qualified for mental health services through the Veterans Administration, they were only available during regular business hours and he could not take the necessary time off from his demanding job. His GAH counselor was willing to meet him on weekends and near his home. Justin’s personal awards from his time in Iraq include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, and Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal. Mr. Constantine received Give an Hour's "Commitment to Service" award in 2012. He has started his own business as an inspirational speaker and serves on the Board of Directors of the Wounded Warrior Project, Give An Hour, and SemperMax. In addition, Justin began the Master of Laws (LLM) program at Georgetown University in the Fall of 2012 focusing on National Security, and will graduate this year.


Feb 21, 2014

Next Generation of Mental Health Providers

2013 panel
2013 panel

Educating the Next Generation of Mental Health Care Providers for Veterans 

Give an Hour provides free and confidential mental health services to military service members, veterans, and their loved ones. Our nearly 7,000 licensed social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists donate time each week to those who serve our country. Thanks in part to those who generously donated via Global Giving, our volunteer mental health providers can continue to offer their critically needed services in every state across the country. We are grateful to the nearly 500 donors who contributed over the last three months. You have increased greatly our ability to provide free mental health care to those in need and we are very grateful for this outpouring of support.

 Although the war is winding down, in many ways the work back home is just beginning, as returning service members face the challenges of reintegrating into the civilian world. Assisting all post-9/11 service members, veterans, and loved ones will require additional mental health professionals for years to come, particularly those familiar with the invisible wounds of war and the challenges facing military families. 

 To help meet this need, Give an Hour has committed to training the next generation of mental health professionals to prepare them to address these specific issues. We have developed a website dedicated to this training and are hosting our second annual conference on April 7, 2014, to gather in Washington, D.C., some of the greatest thought leaders and practitioners in the fields of military culture, military medicine, mental health, and civic engagement. Our conference will address topics such as the use of technology to support those who serve and their families, nontraditional forms of healing, and the effect of war on the children of those who serve.

 Well-respected journalists will serve as moderators and panelists: Yochi Dreazen (The Atlantic), David Finkel (author of Thank You for Your Service and The Good Soldiers), Joe Klein (Time), Quil Lawrence (NPR), Mark Thompson (Time), and Gregg Zoroya (USA Today). To end the day, we will screen the PBS documentary "A Matter of Duty" by Emmy Award–winning documentary filmmaker Charles Stuart.

 The entire conference will be live streamed and subsequently available online. We have invited students in mental health disciplines, licensed professionals seeking additional training, all of Give an Hour’s supporters, and anyone interested in learning more about these issues to go to for more information.

We would like to extend a personal invitation to all of our Global Giving donors to join us in D.C. for the conference and to meet those who have benefitted from your generosity.

Veterans & Grad Students working together
Veterans & Grad Students working together
Nov 25, 2013

Give an Hour launches on Helpouts by Google

Give an Hour offering secure and confidential mental health care sessions for Helpouts, Google's new service for getting help over live video  

Helpouts by Google is a way for individuals anywhere in the world to connect with experts via live video in a wide range of categories, from computers to cooking to counseling. Within Helpouts, individuals can book on-demand video sessions or schedule sessions in advance. Give an Hour will bring a network of licensed mental health professionals to the platform.   "Helpouts' mission is to connect experienced, skilled, passionate people who want to give help to people around the world who need it, which aligns perfectly with Give an Hour's mission of providing free mental health services from a network of licensed mental health professionals donating their time," says Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president of Give an Hour.   Veterans who live where there are no mental health providers or who are physically unable to travel from their homes will now have easy access to mental health care. Helpouts, which supports HIPAA-compliant providers, is confidential and secure and will remove barriers such as geography and mobility, allowing individuals to receive help wherever they live.  Helpouts can be accessed 24/7 from a computer or mobile device.  "This platform, I believe, will revolutionize the way mental health professionals are able to offer their services," adds Dr. Van Dahlen. "We are proud to be working with Google to refine this innovation," she says. Helpouts is a natural extension of Google's mission. There is a lot of information that is not documented on the web--it's in people's heads, it's informed by personal experiences. We believe Helpouts is an easy and efficient way to bring this kind of information to the world," says Udi Manber, who leads Helpouts for Google. "Our goal is simple: help people help each other. We want to use the convenience and efficiency of the web to enable everyone, no matter where they are or what time it is, to easily connect with someone who can help." As this platform is launched, Give an Hour providers will be available via Helpouts in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, D.C., to give services within their state. "Give an Hour is excited to begin this new era in mental health care. Over the coming weeks and months we will be adding more states as we move toward national coverage," notes Dr. Van Dahlen. Google is a proud supporter of the U.S. military veteran community and deeply committed to helping all service members and military spouses make a successful transition to civilian life.,, and are some of the many ways its products are helping veterans and military families pursue their goals.

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