Based on responses to Give an Hour's recently conducted quarterly survey of our wonderful volunteer mental health providers, they have provided over 3,000 hours of counseling since August, 2011. Give an Hour is grateful to its volunteers who give their professional services to our country's military veterans and their loved ones, allowing them to receive free, confidential, easily accessible counseling. Following is an excerpt from an interview with one of GAH's volunteeer providers which shows the direct impact that each provider has on saving lives:
One of Sage's cases is a 24-year-old active duty Marine who has returned from deployment to Iraq in 2008 with severe PTSD. One of his duties was to search and defuse the area around his Forward Operating Base for buried landmines. He was routinely besieged by mortars and grenades both inside and outside "the wire." When he returned home to Pendleton and sought help, he was given a mild anti-depressant and told to "buck up and shut up." His wife had divorced him for another man, and he was barracked right smack in the middle of a highly active training facility that ran training exercises 24/7. By the time a battle buddy referred him to Give an Hour™ and ultimately Sage, "he was experiencing a lot of symptoms," she says. "He goes to bed with two guns and two knives but seldom sleeps. He has so many triggers . . . the sound of vehicles, the smell of fuel, the firing range, the munitions. Pendleton is on the beach, and the sight of sand makes him anxious so that his hyper-arousal goes through the roof. He has an extreme startle response and is constantly on edge. He can't be in the moment because he is continually scanning for the enemy." Besides giving him some tools to cope with his PTS, such as self-talk and meditation techniques, Sage has set two long-term goals for her patient. She is trying to get him into a Navy PTSD program and urging him to act upon his own desire for a discharge. "We'll see," she says. "But no matter what happens I feel like I'm making a difference. I know we professionals need to fill our hours with paid clients, particularly in a recession, but if we have the opportunity to be a part of something as important as Give an Hour™, we should go for it. The benefits of giving back are incalculable."
Oct 18, 2011
Free Mental Health Care for Military Families
By Katherine Wilkins - Director of Development
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.