Give An Hour- Proud To Serve

Posted December 17, 2012

Written by: Barbara Van Dahlen, Give An Hour Founder

 

This was an exciting year of growth and recognition for Give an Hour. In February we had nearly 6,100 mental health professionals in our network. At that time, these providers had collectively given just over 49,600 hours of free mental health care and support to service members, veterans, and their families. Today, we have over 6,500 providers in our network of dedicated professionals who together have donated over 74,000 hours – or $7.4 million worth of services. This is an increase of nearly 150 percent in donated hours in less than a year.

How do we account for the increase in services provided? We believe that several factors have contributed to our growth. In April, for example, we were recognized by the White House as one of the winners of the Joining Forces Community Challenge. This campaign marked the first anniversary of the Joining Forces Initiative and culminated in a celebratory event at the White House. Also in April, I received an amazing honor by being named to Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Understandably, these honors lead to a great deal of interest and media coverage for Give an Hour.

In addition, our small but extremely talented and dedicated staff continues to do an incredible job of getting the word out to important partner organizations as well as to more and more of those in need. This year we signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and we have been asked to assist with several efforts within the Department of Defense.

Finally, as the result of being named the lead activation partner for the Health Pillar of the Got Your 6 campaign, Give an Hour has been introduced to several impressive organizations doing excellent work in this space. We are forming new relationships and alliances and developing coordinated efforts that will allow us to close gaps and more effectively address the challenges faced by those who serve and their families.

Over the next year GAH will continue our exciting work with Got Your 6 in a number of important areas. In June 2013, we will host a series of high-profile events in New York City associated with our commitment to this campaign, specifically, to train the next generation of mental health professionals on the issues that affect those who serve and their families.

And of course we will continue to provide critical mental health care and support to those who serve, their families, and their communities. We will continue to provide consultation to other organizations that serve this deserving population. And we will continue to educate the civilian population about important mental health issues affecting the military community. We will help civilians understand that not all of those who come home from war are damaged, or disabled; that many who come home continue their focus on service and immediately become assets in their communities; that most service members return home to lead productive, healthy lives; and that even those who come home with the invisible injuries of war can be excellent employees, effective students, and wonderful parents—if we ensure  they have the knowledge, resources, tools, and opportunities they need to heal.