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2012 was a year of astonishing growth and recognition for Give an Hour. In February we had nearly 6,100 mental health professionals in our network. These providers had collectively given just over 49,600 hours of free counseling and support to service members, veterans, and their families. Today, with more than 6,500 providers in our network, the number of hours given has soared by nearly 150 percent to over 74,000—which translates to $7.4 million worth of mental health care services.
Right now, we are grateful to our providers for their generosity and, in the wake of the Connecticut shootings, for stepping up and offering their services to victims, families, teachers, and first responders dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy.
In April, Give an Hour was recognized by the White House as one of the winners of the Joining Forces Community Challenge, a campaign marking the first anniversary of the Joining Forces Initiative, which culminated in a celebratory event at the White House. Additionally, I received an amazing honor by being named to TIME Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Clearly, the important work we do to provide free mental health care to those who come home from war has been noticed.
At the beginning of 2012 we also began the second year of a two-year project to develop and implement the Community Blueprint in two demonstration sites. The Blueprint, an innovative initiative of Points of Light, was designed to improve coordination and collaboration among community-based efforts that support the military community. Give an Hour is proud of the role we have played to shape and refine this important approach to creating an integrated system of care for those who serve and their families. As 2012 ends, we have achieved all of the goals of our demonstration project; the Community Blueprint is now a national initigot ative that communities all over the country are adopting; and Give an Hour is being invited to replicate this work in several other cities.
In May of 2012, Give an Hour became the lead activation partner for the health pillar of the Got Your 6 campaign. “Got Your 6” is a military term that means “I’ve got your back.” This campaign, spearheaded by the entertainment industry, works with leading nonprofits to create a new conversation in America, one where veterans and military families are perceived as both leaders and civic assets. In June 2013, GAH 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 familipres.
Also in May, Give an Hour became a certifying organization for the President's Volunteer Service Award program. This wonderful program—established in 2003—will allow us to thank and honor those GAH providers who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service. We recognized our first honorees in May and plan to name our next “class” of recipients in the fall of 2013.
And to close this amazing year, I was invited to speak at TEDxMidAtlantic Be Fearless in Washington, DC, for which the Case Foundation was a principal partner. It was such an honor to share the stage with so many incredible leaders, activists, and artists—all of whom are doing so much to change the world.
What lies ahead for Give an Hour in 2013? Although we have achieved many of our goals, there is far more we must do to ensure that all who serve have the opportunity to heal from their psychological wounds and lead the productive lives they deserve. We are just getting started. We are proud to serve.