Counselors, Therapists "Give An Hour" for WA Veterans
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.