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.
Feb 6, 2015

Not All Scars Are Visible to the Human Eye

For Give an Hour 2015 is a very special year as we mark our 10th anniversary of providing critical mental health services to those who serve, their families, and their communities. 

Give an Hour started as an idea that we can and must do better with and for this generation of veterans; that we can and must capitalize on the spirit of service our military men, women, and families embody; that we can and must work together for the common good. 

“Not all scars are visible to the human eye.  We all have them inside.  It is what we choose to do with those battle wounds that make the difference. I will never be cured, but I can manage my condition and today I am able to have hope for a better tomorrow.” Jennifer - U.S. Army Veteran, Operation Enduring Freedom 

At the tender age of 17, Jennifer joined the military seeking guidance and stability. She deployed to Afghanistan and earned the right to call herself a veteran of foreign war at 20 years old. When Jennifer came home, the effects of war remained. The flashbacks of bodies and explosions consumed her.  Jennifer began to self medicate with illicit drugs, could not hold a job, and ended up homeless.  She was arrested and given a choice — stay sober and get help for her PTSD or go to jail. She entered a local drug court program, had the support of a longtime friend, and received proper treatment. After her VA benefits expired, she was able to keep seeing her therapist, at no cost, through Give an Hour.

Today, Jennifer is the capable mother of two and is employed as a nurse at a hospital. She still sees her GAH therapist and continues her role as a spokesperson for Give an Hour.

Give an Hour has learned many things over the last decade. In particular, we have learned that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to providing care and support to our military and veteran community. 

Our mission could not be accomplished without the generosity of our providers, who sign on to donate one hour of their time each week. Thanks to the nearly 7,000 providers who make up Give an Hour’s national network, we have given over 145,000 hours of care, valued at over $14.5 million.

We believe we have not only the potential but the duty to help one another in times of need. Thank you to all our Global Giving donors and mental health professionals for making that happen.

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Nov 12, 2014

The Military Community: the heart of Give an Hour

Ryan and his daughters
Ryan and his daughters

At the heart of Give an Hour’s mission is the military community ….

Ryan is a 32-year-old Navy veteran living in Dallas, Texas, with his wife and three daughters, ages 8, 6, and 4. Today he is employed as an Explosives Specialist at Dallas Love Field airport, where he uses the knowledge and expertise he gained as a member of one of the Navy’s elite Explosives Ordnance Disposal units.

Ryan deployed to Iraq twice, first in 2007 and then again in 2008. His first day in Iraq involved disarming seven roadside bombs. Ryan earned the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Action Ribbon during his 2007 deployment, having responded to over 150 EOD/Combat Missions. He disarmed one IED by hand and another in a bomb suit. Ryan also earned an Army Commendation Medal during his 2008 deployment, during which he responded to six IEDs and disposed of over 6,000 pounds of captured enemy explosives.

During that time, in addition to the stresses of combat, Ryan was dealing with other developments at home. His oldest daughter suffered from two major seizures while he was deployed, and his middle daughter was born during another deployment; he didn’t see her until she was three months old. Like many people—civilian or military—Ryan knew things “weren’t right” but avoided seeking help. He and his wife kept pushing on, trying and hoping for things to get better. In May 2012, after serving over 9 years, Ryan was medically separated from the Navy for PTSD.

And then in 2013, Ryan became depressed and hopeless and contemplated suicide. The only reason he did not pull the trigger was because his family was home. He began seeing a mental health professional, and although he is still healing, he recognizes that he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of Give an Hour. Ryan notes, “If my story can help even one person . . . if I can encourage one person to get help, to let them know they are not alone, then that’s what I want to do.” Give an Hour was created for Ryan and others like him—who have come home with the understandable invisible injuries of war.

The war in Afghanistan is winding down, and many of the 2.6 million who have served over the past 13 years in this conflict and the war in Iraq have already separated from the military and returned to communities across the country. Some of these men and women—people like Ryan—may be your neighbors, your co-workers, or your friends. Hopefully, you know who they are. Hopefully, they are getting what they need to build the lives they deserve. Over the next five years, hundreds of thousands more will separate from the military and head home to our towns and cities. As a nation, we should welcome them home by doing more than just thanking them for their service.  Our job as a nation is to identify appropriate opportunities and ensure access to effective care. At Give an Hour our focus is on ensuring that we provide quality mental health care and support to those who serve, their families, and their communities. We couldn't do the important work that we do without the support of our generous providers, volunteers, and our GlobalGiving donors.

Thank you.

Man in the Mirror
Man in the Mirror

Links:

Aug 20, 2014

Give an Hour Increases Mental Health Services

140,000 Hours of Service by Give an Hour Providers
140,000 Hours of Service by Give an Hour Providers

Give an Hour is grateful for the support received from so many donors through GlobalGiving, which continues to make possible our ongoing work providing counseling to active duty service members, veterans, and their loved ones. In addition to donating through Global Giving, another way to support our efforts is to follow Give an Hour on social media and to share our news and messages with your networks. We will continue to update you with reports on Global Giving, too.

We are very pleased to report that as of July 2014, Give an Hour's network has 7,000 licensed mental health professionals, located in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, who have donated nearly 140,000 total hours of mental health services. Using a nationwide average of $100 per hour for mental health care, Give an Hour providers have donated nearly $14 million in services since GAH began providing care in July 2007. In addition, our Facebook has increased our Likes 129 %.

In addition to direct counseling, Give an Hour providers participate in community programs, provide consultations to employers, first-responders, schools, and other veterans service organizations; teach skills; offer support and demystify mental health care for those who serve and for those who seek to support our country’s troops.

Through face-to-face counseling, phone consultation and telehealth capabilities, GAH is uniquely positioned to be able to best provide mental health services in the underserved and most needy areas: rural areas; regions around military bases where there are low civilian populations; and locations where Reserve and National Guard troops and their families live, which are often far away from military bases and Veterans Administration facilities.

In reflecting about the death of veterans advocate Steve Robinson recently, Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president of Give an Hour, recently shared her personal story.

My father also came home with undiagnosed combat stress. We all experience loss and recognize accomplishment through our own unique filters. From my perspective one of Steve's greatest gifts to his generation of veterans -- and those veterans just now returning home from over a decade of war -- was his willingness to talk openly about his own mental health struggles and his steadfast belief that suffering from post-traumatic stress does not mean that you are weak. He knew that you couldn’t always prevent, avoid, or resolve the development of devastating symptoms simply by sucking it up. Not only did he fight for his fellow brothers and sisters in arms, he provided an example for them to follow. He provided an example of how even the toughest can suffer from the wounds of war. And he demonstrated that you could be tough even while you heal. Finally, he made it absolutely clear that it takes grit and strength of character to accept the help that one may need to face the demons that can haunt even the bravest soldier. Much remains to be done to ensure that those who come home from war, those who serve, and their families have the care and support they need and deserve. Like Steve and many others, I am hopeful that we can get there. We are a great and generous nation.

We at Give an Hour remain committed to serving those who serve, and we thank you, our friends at Global Giving, for the support that allows us to do so.

Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president, GAH
Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president, GAH
Give an Hour Service Project - Washington, DC
Give an Hour Service Project - Washington, DC

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