This post was written by Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D. on behalf of the Case Foundation:
Barbara Van Dahlen is CEO of Give An Hour, a Time 100 honoree, TEDxMidAtlantic speaker and a longtime partner of the Case Foundation. Give An Hour is a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of the troops and families affected by the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Below is an update on Give An Hour’s efforts and preview of their Celebration of Service event.
Our nation has been at war in Iraq and then Afghanistan for over a decade. Thankfully, by the end of this year, most of our service members will come home from Afghanistan—marking the end of what has been a very long period of conflict for them and for our military families. Families have endured multiple deployments and have seen some of their loved ones come home with physical injuries. In addition, some have come home with the invisible injuries of war including post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. Sadly, some have not come home at all.
Although the wars are winding down, the healing is just beginning for many of those who have served as well as for those who have waited for them here at home. Give an Hour provides free mental health care for returning troops, their families, and their communities. We are proud to work with our colleagues in the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and with our nonprofit partners to ensure that all who serve come home to the opportunities they deserve and the support they need.
Under the banner A Celebration of Service Give an Hour is hosting a series of inspiring events June 2-3 in New York City. We begin our two-day celebration with an MOU (memorandum of understanding) Signing Ceremony and Breakfast with the Army National Guard the morning of June 2 and conclude with a full-day conference at Columbia University on June 3. We are honored that the White House is providing us with a special message from the First Lady and Dr. Biden for our events. This event is made possible with the generous support of the Case Foundation.
A Celebration of Service will also include a community service project on Sunday June 2 with partners such as City Year, Student Veterans of America, Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues, The American Red Cross, American Corporate Partners, and Volunteers of America. That evening we will turn up the volume for an amazing VIP reception and benefit concert at B.B. King Blues Club. Performers include Mark Rivera—who has played saxophone for Billy Joel for 30 years—Kris Allen, Gloria Reuben, Danielle Peck, The 9th, and The Secret State. For additional information on all of our events and to register or purchase tickets, please visit connected.giveanhour.org/celebration_of_Service.shtml.
All of these events are part of Give an Hour’s focus this year on working more closely with the National Guard to reach guard members, their families, and other members of the military and veteran community who lack easy access to the services they need, and on educating the next generation of mental health professionals so they are prepared to provide those services. In fact, as the lead activation partner for the health pillar of Got Your 6 (a national public awareness effort led by the entertainment industry and top-tier national nonprofits), Give an Hour has made a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to educate 100,000 students in mental health disciplines about the issues affecting military families.
A Celebration of Service will bring together colleagues from the military, government, corporate, educational, and nonprofit worlds to focus on service and educating future mental health professionals while encouraging voluntarism, engaging communities, and creating awareness of the need for critical mental health services. Please join us in NYC, share the information with your network, and support us on line. We are proud to serve.