Mending Minds with Access to Mental Health Services
Advocacy While working full-time as a child psychologist, Barbara Van Dahlen founded Give an Hour, a national nonprofit organization providing mental health services to post-9/11 military personnel and their families.
How did you come up with the idea for Give an Hour?
In 2004, I was becoming concerned about the long-term consequences of the war on those who serve. As my daughters and I drove by a homeless veteran one day, my oldest daughter, who was nine at the time, was clearly bothered by what she saw and asked, "How can we let this happen?" I realized I was bothered, too, and knew I had to do something. My dad served in the Navy in WWII, and he taught me to take on challenges. Today, Give an Hour is a national organization with nearly 7,000 mental health professionals who volunteer their time.
"Given the opportunities, our veterans will be impressive leaders, great parents, wonderful partners and productive employees."
What are the biggest misconceptions we have about returning service members and veterans?
Not everyone who serves comes home with post-traumatic stress or another major mental health concern. Even those who do struggle with the understandable psychological consequences of war are able to heal if they receive help and support. Given the opportunities, our veterans will be impressive leaders, great parents, wonderful partners and productive employees. Perhaps most important, mental health concerns are not unique to our military community. As many as one in five adults in our country struggle with significant psychological and emotional challenges. As a nation, we can and must do a better job of building healthy communities for those who come home from war—and for all Americans.
Why is it important to collaborate with other organizations?
Only through coordination and collaboration can we create the comprehensive and integrated system of care service members, veterans and their families need and deserve. That’s why we are so excited to work with Justin Verlander and his Wins for Warriors Foundation. Justin is committed to ensuring that all who serve have appropriate mental healthcare and support and understands that coordination is the key. To encourage more people to get involved in supporting servicemembers and veterans, Justin is participating in the Give an Hour Omaze experience. This innovative campaign provides the average citizen the opportunity to win a once in a lifetime experience meeting Justin on the field before a Tigers' home game and then watching the game from his personal suite while raising funds to support a critical need for our military and veteran communities.