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Samantha L. Quigley American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 18, 2008 – Help for servicemembers coping with the effects of wartime service is just a phone call or a mouse click away, thanks to a nationwide network of mental health professionals.
“Give an Hour” is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that has created a national network of mental health professionals providing free counseling services to returning veterans and their loved ones, according to Barbara Romberg, the group’s founder and president. “The participating mental health professionals will offer a wide range of services including individual, marital and family therapy, substance abuse counseling, and treatment for post traumatic stress disorder,” she said.
The organization’s member providers offer an hour of their time each week to provide services to servicemembers and their spouses and children.
Give an Hour takes the offer a step further by extending its services to parents, siblings and unmarried partners who aren’t entitled to receive similar services through the military. This group might have access to mental health services, but may be less likely to seek help if it’s costly or difficult to find, Romberg said.
Romberg said she’s hoping that will never be the case, as one of Give an Hour’s goals is to recruit tens of thousands of mental health providers across the country willing to offer their services. To date, Give an Hour has 1,000 providers participating nationwide -- a number Romberg hopes to see increase substantially in the near future.
“There are approximately 400,000 licensed mental health professionals in the United States. Our goal is to have 10 percent of them join our efforts,” she said. “With 40,000 providers offering free services for which the average fee would be $100 an hour, we will be saving the military and the taxpayer a total of $4 million per week.”
Until that goal is reached, however, if a request is received and there’s no provider in the immediate area, Give an Hour will work to find one, Romberg said. Organization officials will either work to recruit a provider to serve that area or find a one who will offer phone support.
Give an Hour recently became a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.
“America Supports You will help Give an Hour get much-needed mental health services to our troops and their loved ones by letting them know help is available wherever they are,” Romberg said.