Apr 20, 2016

A Give an Hour Provider Continues to Serve

Getting ready to Jump, circa 1990
Getting ready to Jump, circa 1990

Give an Hour (GAH) was founded in 2005 to provide free, confidential, and unlimited mental health services to members of the military, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, their loved ones, and their communities.

Founded by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a clinical psychologist who recognized that more needed to be done to meet the mental health care needs of troops and families affected by post-9/11 conflicts, she reached out to colleagues asking them to donate their services to those experiencing emotional suffering.

Give an Hour strives to address societal needs through volunteerism and collective efforts, and has shown the powerful and positive effect of giving on those who give and those who receive.

Give an Hour helps those in need though a network of 7,000 volunteer providers, who have donated more than 184,000 hours of care, valued at $18 million worth of services. We rely on practitioners to care for those who protect us. 

John is one of those practitioners. He is a licensed, independent, clinical social worker and has been a Give an Hour provider since 2014. John started out in the US Army Special Forces as an Operations Sergeant, prior to earning his Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Washington.

John describes himself as “a listener” and states that his “purpose is to be of service to others.” His actions reflect this sentiment. John is typically working with three Give an Hour clients at any given time, as well as assisting with outreach events, including speaking presentations and consulting with the staff of community partners.

When asked why he donates his time, John says, “I have a strong affection for, and appreciation of, our military community. I appreciated that Give an Hour recognized the need for support, not only for our veterans, but for their families as well. I am aware that I have received a gift, to be on the journey I find myself on, and this is a way to be of service and put my gratitude into action.”

“There is a moment when the person sitting across from me realizes, and internalizes, that they are being heard, seen, valued, and accepted…for who they are… [and] when that client is a veteran, or a military family member, there seems to be a “rightness” in that moment, almost like balance is being restored in the universe.”

John is currently in private practice in Olympia, Wash., where he works with individuals and couples. He hopes to soon finish his certification as a Hakomi (mindfulness-centered somatic psychotherapy) therapist and to provide additional workshops and trainings. His long-term goal is “to be either running, or working with, a small retreat center that incorporates multiple healing modalities (like Hakomi) for couples.”

“I hope to continue to find ways to be of service to our veterans and their families…with integrity, authenticity, and compassion…to help them regain the fullness of their lives.” 

Give an Hour is so grateful to our talented provider network that, like John, supports and carries on our mission: to provide free and confidential services to the military community.

Keep Calm and Carry On
Keep Calm and Carry On
A Provider Who Gives Back
A Provider Who Gives Back

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Jan 28, 2016

Stories of Hope and Help

Military service affects those who serve and their families in many different ways. The majority of those who serve gain new skills and strengths and transition to the civilian world with a powerful sense of purpose. Many of these servicemen and servicewomen return home and reconnect to family and friends and successfully reintegrate into their new roles and responsibilities. Sadly, others are coping with the understandable challenges of being exposed to combat. Twenty percent of the 2.6 million servicemen and servicewomen who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan will struggle with the invisible wounds of war such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and depression. Tragically, 22 veterans a day end their lives by suicide.

“It takes courage to walk into the doors of a therapist’s office to say you need some help”

It is difficult for many Americans to understand the challenges our nation's military and veteran communities face. Those who serve must contend with frequent relocations, limited employment opportunities for their spouses, uprooted friendships, adjustments to new schools and disrupted routines that place additional stress on their children. At times, these challenges coupled with coping with the unnatural brutality of war can be too much to bear without help from professional mental health services that address these many different issues. Often, we think of our servicemen and women as being the only ones who sacrifice but Give an Hour sees first hand the affect military service has on all members of the family. Recently, Lindsay, a military spouse, shared her story with Give an Hour,

“Throughout my years as a military spouse, I’ve learned that as my husband serves his country, I’ve signed up to serve as well – from the home front. It’s not always easy, as those who stay behind hold it all together and keep things running smoothly while our servicemen and women are gone for extended periods of time. At the beginning of 2015, after a particularly hard year on our family, I began to find myself depleted, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I recognized that in order to continue taking care of those around me, I needed to seek help from an outside source. In March, I connected with a counselor through Give an Hour; one who understood the military way of life.  The counselor has been invaluable to me by providing tools to manage the unique pressures that come with being a military spouse. I am incredibly grateful to both the counselor and Give an Hour for the help that came when I needed it most, and for supporting me so I am able to continue to support and help others.”

                        Lindsey, a military spouse and Give an Hour beneficiary

“Give an Hour providers save lives.”

For over 10 years, Give an Hour has provided free, unlimited and confidential mental health services to these dedicated men, women, and their loved ones through our volunteer network of 7,000 licensed mental health professionals. To-date our generous providers have contributed over $17.5 million in free mental health care. 

It costs Give an Hour $17 for one of our providers to give one hour of free mental versus a national average of $100 an hour.  A gift of $68 covers the cost of a Give an Hour provider offering four weekly visits for a month.  And, a gift of $408 will provide six months of weekly visits with a Give an Hour provider. Your generous gift today can help ensure the mental wellbeing of those who serve our country and their loved ones who support them.

Give an Hour is proud of our providers and their generous donation of professional services to our military. Their work ensures that we can continue to meet the needs of our service men and women.  

For an inside look at some of our inspiring providers and those who they have helped, please view our Stories of Hope and Help video: http://bit.ly/storiesofhelpandhope.

It can also be found at Give an Hour's Provider registration page if you'd like to learn more about our work.

Thank you to the generous mental health professionals from every state who have joined our network to provide free counseling for those who serve and their families. Thank you to our donors who support this vital work.

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Nov 3, 2015

Giving Hope and Help Since 2005

It is a very special year for Give an Hour as we mark our 10th anniversary of providing free and easily accessible mental health services to the military, their families, and their communities.

Ten years ago, Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen a psychologist in the Washington, D.C. area, recognized that as a country and as individuals we needed to do more to help those who so bravely served our country and now were facing mental health struggles and reintegration challenges.   Her idea was to have mental health professionals donate a little of their time to provide mental health care to our nation’s returning troops and their families. This simple idea and the need for these critical services has led to a national volunteer network of nearly 7,000 providers who have given over 170,000 hours of mental health care valued at over $17 million. 

Give an Hour volunteers and providers are the backbone of our organization. The 2015 Military Spouse of the Year and Give an Hour volunteer, Corie, shares her own experience to help military couples work through reintegration and other stress. In an interview with blogger Terri, Corie relayed how she practices a principle she learned as a licensed professional counselor, “say out loud the things that are hard to say out loud." It is the help of these unique and generous providers that enable Give an Hour to provide help over the last 10 years and will enable us to continue to fulfill our mission to provide free and accessible mental health care to our military community. 

Over the past 10 years, Give an Hour has been a rewarding journey for Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, President and Founder of Give an Hour. She says, “We have learned that no one organization or entity can provide all that our service members and their families need. We have learned that one size does not fit all when it comes to healing the invisible injuries of war. And we have learned that in order to provide for the mental health needs of those who serve, we must also address the societal issues that prevent them for seeking and receiving care.” In order to address mental health stigmas, this past spring, Give an Hour, expanded its work to include the Campaign to Change Direction, a collective impact effort to change the culture of mental health in America. Give an Hour and its partners address common barriers to understanding mental health and raise awareness about Five Signs that may indicate someone is suffering emotionally and in need of help, so that all citizens can act on their desire to be caring to those showing signs of suffering.

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