SPOKANE, Wash. - Women married to deployed soldiers are more likely to
be diagnosed with depression and other stress-related disorders and are
seeking help in greater numbers, a new study has found. RTI International
and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
surveyed 250,000 female spouses of active-duty U.S. Army soldiers of
all ranks. The findings were published in the Jan. 14, 2010, issue of
the "New England Journal of Medicine."
The study results don't surprise counselor Connie Chapman, Spokane. She's a volunteer for Give An Hour
a group that asks mental health professionals to set aside one hour a
week to provide free counseling for veterans and their families. As a
National Guard veteran who served in Iraq, Chapman knows first-hand
what military spouses go through.
"You're constantly worried something's gonna go wrong, that they're
gonna get injured or they're gonna get hurt - and how do you manage
that? As well as, how do you manage the daily life that you used to
share with them?"
Chapman signed up because she saw the growing need and the difficulty
of accessing V.A. services in some areas. Before moving to Spokane, she
lived in a small town, where she says only one therapist was authorized
by the V.A. to cover two counties.
The Veterans Administration system is overloaded, she says, and only covers spouses and dependents for counseling. Give An Hour
offers expanded services for siblings, parents and others affected by a
deployment. Chapman urges more therapists to get involved.
"It's absolutely, completely worth their time. It's extremely
rewarding, and it's such a valuable service. Giving up an hour of your
week is minuscule compared to the sacrifices that these service members
and their family members make."
Give an Hour
counselors can be located by zip code on the group's web site, www.giveanhour.org