Psychologist Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen gets veterans free mental health care.
“9/11 happened. On that day, I knew we were gonna go to war,” she explained. “And I knew that a whole lot of people were going to be suffering as a result, and that we weren’t going to be ready because we weren’t ready in Vietnam and we weren’t — we’ve never been ready to address the needs coming home from war.”
Dr. Van Dahlen is the founder of the nonprofit Give an Hour, which connects veterans and their families with free mental health care. Since it began in 2005, it has provided more than 255,000 hours of care, and $25,000,000 in value.
The organization works by matching veterans or their family members with professionals who volunteer their time to provide free care. They work with 390 partner organizations, including government organizations like the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Dr. Van Dahlen believes one way to help more people is to erase stigma.
“One in five people in the U.S. have a diagnosable condition. That’s a lot of us,” she said. “People think it means I’m weak, I’m broken, still. Humans don’t like being vulnerable.”
Along with The Campaign to Change Direction, which launched in 2015, Give an Hour will host a global summit in London in October 2018 to continue conversations around mental health.