Free Counseling for Military Families across U.S.

by Give an Hour
Thank you to our Global Giving donors.
Thank you to our Global Giving donors.

A Year-End Message from Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D.

Founder and President of Give an Hour

For many of us, the holidays are a time of tradition – a time of thanks as we take a moment to appreciate the blessings of family, friends, home, and work. When my two daughters were little girls, I took them to visit our local fire station each holiday season. One would carry the bag of toys we brought with us to donate to our local Toys for Tots campaign while the other carried a plate of cookies for the firemen. My daughters loved this tradition - because it allowed them to give to those in need and it allowed us to share our blessings with those who serve our community.

For those who serve, however, the holidays can be a challenging time. Some servicemen and servicewomen are returning and reconnecting to family and friends after a long absence. Others are dealing with the understandable consequences of their experience in combat. And still others are currently deployed and experiencing the holidays far away from loved ones.

Military service affects all those who serve and their families. Fortunately, the majority of those who serve gain new skills and strengths – and they transition to the civilian world with a renewed sense of purpose. 

But some of the thousands who separate from service each year will struggle with the invisible wounds of war such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and depression. And sadly, 20 veterans a day choose suicide – many of these are men and women who served decades ago but are clearly still suffering the consequences of injuries that were unseen and untreated.

During this season of giving, it is our honor to show our appreciation – and provide support - to those who serve, their families and our veterans. It is up to us to take steps to ensure they receive the support they need to lead healthy, productive lives.

To Give an Hour this means providing free mental health services, during the holiday season and for as long as needed. It means working with partner organizations around the country to connect those in need to a full range of additional support services. It also means changing the culture of mental health for all Americans through our collective impact effort, the Campaign to Change Direction so that all in need are comfortable seeking care. 

For over 11 years, Give an Hour has provided confidential, free, and unlimited mental health services through our volunteer network of nearly 7,000 licensed professionals. Our generous providers have contributed over $21M in free mental health care.

As we close out 2016, we want to thank our Global Giving Donors for supporting our nation's military and veteran communities by making donations to Give an Hour this past year. It costs Give an Hour only $16 to provide one hour of care – compared to the national average of $100 per hour. A gift of $64 covers the cost of a Give an Hour provider offering four weekly visits for one month. And a gift of $384 will provide six months of weekly visits for a member of the military or a loved one to see a Give an Hour provider. For only $832 you can give the gift of one year of mental health care to someone in need. 

I ask you that you to continue to give generously throughout the year and please consider making an end-of-year gift to help support those who serve and their families. If you are able, you might also consider a year-round monthly gift to help increase Give an Hour's ability to provide the services our military and veteran communities need.

As you gather with family and friends to celebrate this holiday season, I hope that your traditions bring you comfort and joy. And may 2017 be a Happy, Healthy, and Peaceful year for you and those you love.

Thank you and Happy Holidays,

Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D.

Founder and President

Give an Hour provides free mental health services.
Give an Hour provides free mental health services.
The holidays can be a challenging time.
The holidays can be a challenging time.


Do you know the five signs?
Do you know the five signs?

In 2016, Give an Hour celebrates eleven years of providing free mental health care to those who serve and their families. Our generous volunteer mental health professionals are the heart and soul of Give an Hour. Although the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are no longer front-page news, our providers, continue to answer the call to serve those in need. 

Thanks to the collective effort of the members of our national network Give an Hour has now provided over 200,000 hours – valued at over $20 million – of free care to our nation’s service members, veterans and their families since we began our work over a decade ago. At Give an Hour we are very proud to serve those who serve.

Give an Hour began as a simple idea back in 2005: ask mental health professionals to give an hour of their time each week to provide free care to the men, women, and families who serve our nation.

In 2015 we launched a complementary effort to address the cultural barriers that prevent those in need – service members, veterans and civilians – from receiving help. 

Give an Hour launched the Campaign to Change Direction, a collective impact effort to change the culture of mental health in America. This movement encourages all Americans to take care of their emotional well-being as they do their physical well-being, and it encourages all of us to learn the Five Signs of emotional suffering so that those in need receive the care and support they deserve.

We are proud that 240 organizations have joined our coalition. And we are honored that many of the organizations leading the way are our partners from the veteran and military service community.

In addition, many celebrities and leaders have stepped up to join this critical effort including: First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, Richard Gere, Brian Wilson, Chris Stapleton and Prince Harry. 

We are grateful to the generous donors who support our efforts through Global Giving platform. We encourage you to learn the Five Signs at:

Thank you.

Healthy Families Know the Five Signs
Healthy Families Know the Five Signs
Show Us You Know the Five Signs
Show Us You Know the Five Signs
It's time to change the culture of mental health.


A response to a national tragedy 

Give an Hour™ (, a national nonprofit organization providing mental health services at no cost to members of our nation's military and veteran communities,joins with citizens, organizations, and communities across the country in mourning the loss of so many victims of violence over the past month.

In keeping with our tradition of offering our services to other groups in need, Give an Hour made available its network of mental health professionalsto victims, families, and first responders dealing with the aftermath of the Orlando and Dallas tragedies. Our network includes thousands of licensed mental health practitioners trained in assisting individuals coping with trauma and recovering from crises and violence.

"We know that the impact of this trauma will have a profound and long-lasting affect on many of those touched by this horrific act of violence," says Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president of Give an Hour, adding, "Give an Hour is committed to ensuring that those who are suffering receive the help and support they deserve."

Heidi, who practices in Orlando, has been one of our 7,000 providers since 2011. She knew that Give an Hour had a history of opening doors to the civilian community. She reached out directly to Dr. Van Dahlen and was “blown away and grateful for the response.”

Personally touched and horrified by the events in her hometown, Heidi began to email her friends in the mental health community. She created a video and reached out to over 1000 therapists in Central Florida and asked them to sign up for Give an Hour. She used social media to reach the extended population and to let families and friends of those impacted know “that help was out there. The greatest challenge continues to be to identify those who have been affected. The circle of influence is so much broader than families of those who have been shot or killed.”

Heidi credits her parents with having trained her well. She says, “Volunteering is in my blood.” Not having served in the military herself, she views Give an Hour as a way of saying thank you to members of the military, veterans, and their families.

With a Master’s in both social work and public health from Boston University, Heidi was working at the VA during September 11th. It was there that the veteran community stole her heart. When she moved back to her hometown of Orlando, Heidi became a Give an Hour licensed mental health therapist, providing individual counseling and going on Wounded Warrior retreats. She fell in love with the work, encouraging clients to use our services and urging colleagues in the mental health community to join our network. She networks frequently, speaks, teaches and promotes Give an Hour. She often encounters people who break down in tears when they find out that they can receive free and confidential services through Give an Hour. 

“I have been in this field a long time (27+ years now!), and I love seeing my clients get better. They are able to heal their marriages or relationships. Their anxiety goes way down; they handle stress much more easily. They get the results they want. They are able to reduce or completely stop using, if that is their goal. They are feeling happy, and they have more internal peace in their lives. 

I believe a person seeking help already has the inherent ability to “be ok” deep down and I can help you tap into your inner peace. I can teach you skills to help you improve your mood, choose healthier ways to cope with stress, and deepen your sense of satisfaction with life. My goal is to help you be your best authentic self.”

Read Heidi’s blog -

Give an Hour is grateful to our providers who generously contribute to the well-being of those who have served and other communities. Heidi and fellow mental health providers form the backbone of our network and are helping to build healthier communities around the U.S.

Mental health professionals interested in joining Give an Hour can complete an easy online form by clicking on "Give Help" at

Those seeking help from Give an Hour can visit and click on “Get Help" to locate a provider in their area.

Give an Hour is grateful to our Global Giving donors who support oour mission.  Thank you.   


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


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:

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.



About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Give an Hour

Location: Bethesda, MD - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Sally Charney
Director of Communications and Partnerships
Bethesda, MD United States
$106,286 raised of $175,000 goal
1,472 donations
$68,714 to go
Donate Now
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. Learn more.
Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money for this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page for this project.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.