One of Give an Hour’s most experienced volunteers is a mental health and addiction counselor who has been practicing for over fifty years. He has provided mental health care to service members and their families for decades. Besides marital counseling he has helped the local military community address mental illnesses including anxiety, eating disorders, depression, bi-polar disease and schizophrenia.
He says that many of his cases begin with marital discord that comes from the service member being deployed multiple times and then returning home with no mental health support.“I see a fair number of Reservists’ wives who are dealing with issues in their marriage while their husbands are deployed and when they come home. For example they’ll find out about an affair, usually by email. Then everyone involved has to face the reality of who they are and where they are.” He also sees alcohol addiction as a common problem when service members return home. “Alcohol so often compounds the problems reservists with PTSD have when they return from combat,” he explains. “I approach it like pealing an onion. The first layer we need to resolve is the drinking as a way to numb anxiety then we can start working on the PTSD. The sobering up process takes a lot of work and patience on the part of my clients, I can tell you that.”
He works with military service and family members as well as pro bono for Give an Hour. His GAH clients are usually able to “make great progress over a period of ten or so sessions. About 92% of them get the work done in that amount of time.” Besides volunteering for Give an Hour, he volunteers for a hotline for police officers. “Plenty of Reservists and Guard members go from law enforcement to military police work and return to law enforcement after they transition out, so it makes sense for me to work in both employment fields.”
Multiple deployments add to his caseload. “These kids are deployed as MP’s to guard bases and highways time and time again. They become hardened. One of my clients was a young man who had carried on a courtship via phone and email for 18 months deployment. When he returned and wanted to get married, his fiancée had second thoughts because he had changed so much. He was a big guy, around 300 pounds and any time he felt she was challenging him, he just exploded. At first he didn’t trust me because he thought I was going to be a ‘touchy feely’ counselor, but eventually I worked with him then with both of them and they made some real growth.”
This volunteer is devoted to his Give an Hour work. “We have these skills sets and must apply them to help those who have served us. They often return to tumultuous lives. They need our help.”