Since posting the project description at GlobalGiving, Give an Hour’s volunteer mental health providers have increased in number from 5,500 to almost 6,000. Give an Hour is effective due to the simplicity and speed by which free counseling services can be provided to a particularly needy population that is spread across the United States and U.S. Territories. Free to recipients, the services require a minimal infrastructure of paid staff to support the program: Last year services were provided at a cost to GAH of $17.88 per hour. If billed at a standard rate, they would have cost a minimum of $100 per hour, not including coordination, outreach, and other costs such as overhead.
We hear from military officials and others that our volunteers are making a difference in improving the lives of our service members and their families. One example of how GAH works occurred when GAH was contacted by a colleague at Walter Reed’s Wounded Warrior Mentor Program about whether we could get help to a family in N.C. There a suicidal veteran with TBI who is also a single father was in need of counseling, as were his children. They had not been able to get care from the VA. Our staff located a GAH volunteer nearby who networked among her peers to coordinate free care for the whole family. We field requests like this and connect those in need to those who can help as often as once a week—in addition to the connections made directly via our Web site.
Give an Hour is successful because it harnesses the widespread desire to help and support our nation’s military. We believe that most people value the opportunity to respond to a worthy cause and that the act of giving has a powerful and positive effect on those who give and those who receive. But we also know that people are more likely to donate their time if it can be done easily. We are making it easy for mental health professionals to donate their valuable skills by joining the GAH network. In this way we are harnessing their urge to volunteer and their clinical knowledge to provide the care our military community needs and deserves while educating the larger public about the mental health issues this community faces.
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