Give an Hour

Saying thanks to the Puget Sound mental health community for serving servicemembers

By Gary Lott on January 15, 2016

Give an Hour plans to work together, and not compete, with the Puget Sound community to bolster and assist the mental health needs of the servicemembers that live there.

"We are not interested in competing with other organizations, taking center stage, or self-righteousness," said Tacoma Community Collaborative Project Coordinator for Give an Hour, Dr. Dug Lee.  "Rather, our focus is on forging healthy and collaborative relationships within the community and doing what we can to support and grow the successes of community organizations."

Founded in September 2005 by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a psychologist in the Washington, D.C. area, Give an Hour was created in response to the lack of resources to meet the mental health needs of servicemembers affected by the post-9/11 conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The local initiative that serves the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Camp Murray and Puget Sound communities relies heavily on partnerships for success.

"We have been directing our energy toward supporting the efforts of stable community organizations," said Lee.  "We are doing so by helping to bolster and grow their programs and facilitate advantageous new partnerships."

United Healthcare has facilitated Give an Hour's local initiative, in collaboration with community organizations, to bolster existing resources and fill in any gaps that may exist locally in dealing with servicemembers' mental health needs.

"A strong focus of this initiative is on sustainability, therefore, we have been directing our energy toward supporting the efforts of stable community organizations," said Lee.  "Furthermore, we are working closely with South Sound 2-1-1 to make sure that all community members and organizations can turn to 2-1-1 as a primary tool to identify mental health resources for the military community.

Give an Hour providers are available to dispense support to individuals, couples, families and children with military background.

"Active servicemembers and veterans have come to Give an Hour providers with troubles stemming from PTSD, depression, anxiety, work, relationships, etc.," said Lee.  "In addition, significant others and children of servicemembers have requested help because of distress resulting from a variety of triggers including moving, deployments, finances and social difficulties."

Give an Hour will be hosting Military Family Resilience: A Mental Health Symposium Friday, Jan. 22 to provide training for mental health professionals who currently are or want to work with military kids and families.

Any mental health therapists interested in volunteering one hour a week of their time to provide therapy for servicemembers can join with Give an Hour.

However, training isn't required to assist with Give an Hour; they're in dire need for non-clinical volunteers as well.

"We rely on non-clinical volunteers to help us with our outreach efforts in the community to make sure that the military community knows that they can reach out to Give an Hour for help, to educate the community about military culture, and to destigmatize mental health needs," said Lee.

The national nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the mental health needs of various military communities, Give an Hour, held a Holiday Appreciation Celebration at the American Lake Golf Course Jan. 7.

Although the mental focus of the holiday celebration was to enjoy an afternoon of holiday cheer, the overall purpose was to indulge upon a mindset that reflects upon an abundance-focused mindset instead of what goals weren't met.

"In the world of social services, there is often a focus on ‘deficits' - where is the need, what else needs to be done, how can WE make this better, etc.," said Lee.  "An event like the Holiday Celebration gives the community a chance to take a pause from deficit-focused thinking and switch to abundance-focused thinking - this is what we've accomplished, this is how far we've come, and these are the improvements that we have contributed to."

Anyone interested in staying informed about the projects Give an Hour is currently working on, can receive updates by selecting "Become A Fan" on their website,