I asked a few people what Memorial Day means to them. It seems this bookend of summer is about picnics, family time, fishing, BBQ, and, if you’re lucky, getting out on a boat. No one mentioned anything about honoring those who served in the military. No one mentioned going to a cemetery to honor the dead.
Maybe people were doing that sort of remembrance more quietly. Maybe I didn’t ask enough older people who remember all-out star spangled parades in town and ceremonies at local cemeteries.
Our country has been involved in many wars. Military people have given their lives. They deserve our honor and respect.
There are thousands of veterans and reservists alive and living among us, as well. Some are recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. I hope many of them got to go boating and picnicking with their families on Monday too.
Life isn’t always so jolly for those who return from war. Sure, it’s better to be out of war zones. But the adjustments and challenges are huge when you come back. And they involve not just the service person, but the whole family. The New York Times reports “One in five service members who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, but little more than half of them have mental health treatment, according to an independent study of United States troops.”
Sadly, mental health treatment is perceived by many to have stigma. Many returning troops don’t seek this kind of medical treatment because they worry it will impact their careers in a negative way. I want to tell you about a great program that can help address this problem. And, then once you know about it, I’m going to ask you to tell at least one military person about it.
It’s free for military people and free for their families.
It’s available right now, right here in Westchester County (and across the nation).
It’s confidential. It doesn’t involve an insurance company and it doesn’t involve military records.
And, in case this sounds too good to be true, let me add: it’s not a hoax or a scam.
The program is called GIVE AN HOUR. Give an hour is a non-profit organization that connects licensed mental health professionals willing to give one hour a week of mental health services to military people in need. Here’s what they say in the Welcome section on their website:
“We understand that individuals who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan--and their families--may need help dealing with the effects of wartime service. We want to help you heal and offer a variety of mental health services to address your needs. We are a nonprofit organization providing free mental health services to U.S. military personnel and loved ones affected by the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This includes members of the National Guard and Reserves who have not yet deployed. We are offering a range of mental health services in order to address a variety of needs for those of you seeking services. We are also providing links to a variety of resources for military families, including articles that discuss the kinds of difficulties military families encounter and services available from national, state, and local organizations.” www.GiveAnHour.org
Go to the website and search for a provider in the Scardale 10583 zip code and you’ll see me, Tamera Schreur, Family Therapist, on the list along with four other mental health clinicians, Dr. Andrea Garry, Cindy Hyatt, Cheryl Kessner, and Dr. Rita Smith. I’m available right now to help someone. So are the other four clinicians. And, if you are in another part of the state or country, you can find other clinicians ready to give an hour of their time (each week)!
Why did we all sign up to do this for free?
Because we care. Because we know mental health treatment really helps. It can help keep someone alive. It can help with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Family treatment can help with deployment adjustments. Conjoint treatment can help (married and unmarried) couples face the challenges of life together or apart again. Child or teen therapy can help reduce the stress faced by the children of military men and women.
Remember, it’s free, confidential, and available right now. Sounds too good to be true, but it’s not.
Now, do your part. Tell someone you know about Give An Hour. www.GiveAnHour.org
Musings on life and relationships from