Dear Abby: Large numbers of veterans are returning home with a wide range of psychological difficulties, many struggling with severe physical injuries or traumatic brain injuries. One in 10 soldiers reports mental health problems, while 30 percent of U.S. troops develop serious mental health problems within three to four months of coming home.
Post-traumatic stress is a natural human reaction to horrific experiences. The symptoms of PTSD are greatly reduced if appropriate treatment is provided quickly to those in need. Individuals who suffer from traumatic brain injuries also experience consequences such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse and marital difficulties. And children whose parents suffer from PTSD are more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Give an Hour is a nonprofit organization that has established a national network of more than 5,300 licensed mental health professionals who provide free mental health services to U.S. troops, their families and communities affected by the current military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Each one gives an hour each week to provide free mental health services to military personnel and their families. In addition, these volunteers work to educate the public and the military community to reduce the stigma so often associated with mental health issues.
Give an Hour offers immediate access to services for people who might fail to seek help through the military or Veterans Administration. Parents, siblings, unmarried partners and other loved ones are typically not covered by military insurance. However, they, too, are often adversely affected and can benefit from the professional help our organization offers.
Thank you for helping to spread the word about our services.
-- Lauren Itzkowitz, Director of Public Relations
Dear Lauren: I salute your efforts. The service that Give an Hour is offering is vital, and I'm pleased to alert readers that it is available.
Readers, in addition to providing easy and free care for as long as it's needed, this organization is following the example of service embodied by so many of our military men and women. There are providers in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico. To find one, log on to www.giveanhour.org and use the ZIP code search. If there is no provider in your area, the organization can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and a provider will be located for you.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.