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This Veteran’s Day, the Case Foundation is excited to recognize Give an Hour, an innovative organization that harnesses the power of skilled volunteers to provide free mental health services for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families. This week, watch Give an Hour’s video on our Facebook page, and for every like, comment, or share it receives this week, we’ll donate $10 to the organization, up to $10,000. On October 21 President Obama announced that the war in Iraq has ended and the nearly 40,000 troops still serving there would come home by the end of the year. While this is definitely a cause for celebration, we as a nation have much to do to adequately prepare for our troops’ return. We must ensure that all of the men, women, and families who have served—as well as those who continue to serve—receive the support and care they need and deserve.

Since September 11, 2001, more than 2.3 million men and women have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tragically, 6,242 service members have died and over 46,000 have been injured. In addition to the wounds that we can see, many of our returning service members return with the invisible wounds of war, including post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and traumatic brain injury. Some studies indicate that as many as 35 percent of those who see combat will experience significant mental health concerns during their lifetime. For those of us in the mental health field, this is not surprising. Post-traumatic stress and other mental health conditions are understandable consequences of exposure to war. Fortunately, there is much that can be done to assist those who suffer—but only if we can reach and educate them about these issues and only if we can make resources readily available to them.

In addition to mental health concerns, service members and their families face many other challenges. Our troops are coming home to a struggling economy:  jobs are difficult to find, and skills developed within the military do not always translate easily to civilian positions. For those who want to go to college, the student culture that exists on most college campuses may not be a great fit. Furthermore, many military families are facing financial and legal difficulties, and this generation of veterans is entering the homeless population at a much faster rate than prior cohorts. Thankfully, our country is united in its support for military families. Now is the time to transform this support into action.

Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, frequently refers to the "Sea of Goodwill” expressed toward our military personnel when describing the unique role that communities must play in assisting those who serve when they come home. Several efforts are under way to help communities in their efforts to provide this support. Our First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden are using their powerful voices to engage corporations and citizens through the Joining Forces Initiative. And the Community Blueprint Network Initiative provides community leaders with promising practices and innovative strategies for creating a coordinated and integrated system of care for those who serve and their families.

As we commemorate Veterans Day (November 11) and November as National Military Families month, let us honor those who protect and defend our way of life by taking action in our communities to ensure their lives continue to be healthy, productive, and meaningful. Also, special thanks to the Case Foundation for their partnership with Give an Hour and their efforts to support our veterans and military families this Veterans Day.


****** P.S. Check out the Case Foundation's list of Veterans Day resources on Facebook.



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