Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.

by Give an Hour
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Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.
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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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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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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Heading Back to School: Give an Hour Student Liaisons Serve as Ambassadors Across the Country

Give an Hour, marking its 10th year anniversary this year, is a national nonprofit organization providing free and confidential mental health services to members of the military, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, their loved ones, and their communities, recently announced that its network of 7,000 licensed mental health professionals has donated 163,283 hours of mental health services.

At the national average cost of $100 per hour for mental health counseling, Give an Hour providers have donated over $16.3 million since 2007. This latest figure represents an increase of 37% (44,000 hours) in total time donated over last year. In the last three months alone, Give an Hour providers donated 7,800 hours of services; 5,000 of these hours were face-to-face counseling. 

Valued volunteer contributors, Give an Hour Student Liaisons serve as ambassadors by creating awareness of our mission and services to student and faculty members at colleges and universities nationwide. One of our highly appreciated Student Liaisons is Kailyn B. She writes: 

As an Air Force veteran, I feel a strong pull to continue to serve my comrades - past, present, and future. When I         heard about Give an Hour, I knew I had to get involved. In the fall, I will begin the 3rd year of my doctoral program in clinical psychology. As I dive deeper into my studies and research of the military community, I am confronted with facts about the great divide between the military community and the civilian community. A recent study by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the RAND Corporation found there was a lack of understanding among community providers about military culture and resources available for veterans, despite the fact that one in six Americans is either a servicemember, veteran, or military dependent. Knowing that veterans have higher rates of mental health issues and are at a higher suicide risk than civilians makes it my passion to work to bridge this divide.

I wanted to get involved with Give an Hour because I believe in its mission - to spread awareness about the psychological needs of the military community and to provide information and professional training to providers and future providers so the military community can get the support it needs. As a student liaison, I have taken this mission to my university by requesting the inclusion of the military community as part of our curriculum and class discussions. I have also arranged for military providers to come speak at our school, providing students insight into what it is like to work with the military community. As the chair for our student government organization, I have advocated for projects to help veterans in the local community.

I plan to continue my work in spreading the word about the services that Give an Hour provides and about the mental health needs of the military community.

I am very grateful for my military training, and I wish to contribute back to the military by supporting the servicemembers, veterans, and their families. Give an Hour has given me the opportunity to do so.                                                                

Everyone is affected by the experience of war – those who have served and their loved ones need help dealing with after effects of service. By providing services that are confidential and separate from military resources, Give an Hour offers an essential service for men and women who might otherwise fail to seek or receive appropriate help.

We are grateful to Kailyn and all of our Give an Hour Student Liaisons who make a difference on campuses across the country.

We are thankful to our Global Giving donors who help to make our work possible. Thank you.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and serves as a call to action to bring attention to the issue of mental health. Many people are unaware that one in five citizens in the United States has a diagnosable mental health condition and that more Americans are expected to die this year by suicide than in car accidents.

When someone suffers from emotional distress or mental illness it is not uncommon for people to suggest that the struggles will pass or the person should get over it. But as a society we need to reach out when someone we care about is suffering emotionally in the same way that we would if the person was experiencing physical illness. As a result of the stigma associated with mental health, a person often suffers alone and in silence. Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, the founder of Give an Hour, a national nonprofit dedicated to providing free mental health counseling to service members, veterans, and their families, recently wrote: "In our society we are quick to try to make it ok, to say it will pass, and to say, deal with it. We really don’t listen to ourselves and we don’t listen to others very effectively.” 

At Give an Hour, we do not believe that any person, military or civilian, should suffer alone. And thanks to friends like our Global Giving supporters, people don't have to. 

Following the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001, Sarah joined the United States Air Force, having felt the need to do something purposeful. Sarah worked in many facets of the Air Force, supporting the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and volunteering to help injured troops evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan. During this time, Sarah survived a devastating sexual and physical assault. The mental and physical consequences of this attack resulted in her medical discharge from the Air Force. After her discharge, Sarah decided to enter college and earn a degree in social work, enabling her to serve as a Peer Mentor to veterans. Yet, even with a busy and rewarding career and a strong family support system, Sarah continued to suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress. Sarah recognized that she needed help but discovered that she needed services beyond what was available through military mental health resources. Fortunately for Sarah, she found Give an Hour, which—with a network of nearly 7,000 licensed mental health providers—was able to connect her to a counselor. Today, Sarah continues to heal and looks forward to becoming a licensed clinical social worker so she can join Give an Hour as a provider and reach out to someone else who needs help.

Thank you again to all our Global Giving donors and mental health professionals for helping us help Sarah and many others like her.

Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president, GAH
Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president, GAH
Free and confidential mental health services
Free and confidential mental health services
Sarah looks forward to helping others
Sarah looks forward to helping others
Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president, GAH
Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president, GAH
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Give an Hour

Location: Bethesda, MD - USA
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Twitter: @GiveanHour
Project Leader:
Sally Charney
Director of Communications and Partnerships
Bethesda, MD United States
$136,650 raised of $175,000 goal
 
1,906 donations
$38,350 to go
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