Saturday, June 14, 2008

Give an Hour - Free mental health counseling to US Military personnel and families

Give an Hour is a non-profit organization asking mental health professionals nationwide to literally give an hour of their time each week to provide free mental health services to military personnel and their families.

This is 'news' to me, something I hadn't heard about yet, and I wanted to do my small part in helping to promote it as a resource. I'd like to give a shout out to visit their website to learn more about Give an Hour. The material and informtion at their website is well organized and self-explanatory.

I learned of Give an Hour in reading at diary at Daily Kos - jimstaro, a member of Veterans for Peace, that also has a brief video Helping warriors find peace of mind , which gives a bit of explanation about the concept of the organization, Give an Hour. The video features U.S. Army Col. James Bradley, Chief of Pyschiatry, at Walter Reed Medical Center making the statement that 'really what we are dealing with is normal reactions to abnormal circumstances'. the video also features Dr. Barbara Romberg, Founder Give an Hour. It is useful to both take a look at the short video, and then take a longer look at the Give an Hour website for additional and concrete information.

At a more local level, here in Washington state, I recently encountered a non-profit organization, The Soldiers Project Northwest, which is a group of mental health care providers in Washington is offering free help to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families who either can’t or don’t want to go through traditional channels for care. The Soldiers Project Northwest is a chapter of and modeled after a similar effort in Los Angeles, The Soldiers Project, where volunteer therapists since 2004 have seen clients without charge for help with their war-related problems.
(Read more at article, A New Source of Mental Health Care, for veterans in Tacoma News Tribune)

At a personal experience level, my son-in-law is deployed in Iraq again, in his second 15 month 'stop-loss' extended deployment. He will have 30 months in Iraq, but it is a higher number of months that he is away from his family as there is a 3 month lead in before he deploys, where he is away from his family training 'down-field' before he deploys. And then even when he is home, there is the ongoing training with a 'down-field' month of training about every quarter.

So overall he will have been absent from his family (wife and three children - my daughter and grandchildren) for about 40 months or more of 72 months since the war in Iraq was initiated. In this second deployment he is struggling with the fullness of the reality of it all - combat, extended absence from his family. My daughter is also having a more difficult time with him gone in this deployment. These long absences take their toll on both of them.

Their marriage continues to stand strong, but the absence is getting to both of them. The little ones, who are now 6 and 7 were only 1 and 2 when he left for the first deployment, so for most of their formative years, he has been gone in deployments in Iraq. He has stated how aware he has become of how much of their growing up years he has missed. These are years he and they can never get back. (As an aside, I have to question how the supposed 'family values' party can call their values 'family values' when they support this war and the impact it has on families on all sides.)

I also well remembered the Vietnam era, retuning troops with PTSD phenomenon, which actually gave us the name PTSD - previously named Battle Fatique or Soldier's Heart (see Frontline 'The Soldier's Heart'). I thought our country also remembered, and that what is well known in the professional mental health industry would have mental health therapists stepping up to the plate, knowing what we could expect with returning troops. I rather thought, perhaps erroneously, it was kind of a 'civilian duty' during time of war.

I'm so pleased to see the formations of these kinds of organizations reaching out to offer professional therapy help to military and their families

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President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


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