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Professional News
More Professionals See Value of Volunteering to Help Vets
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 23 page 1-36

Ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to take their toll on members of America's armed forces after they return home, not just while they are in the line of fire.

"All wounds are not physical, but all wounds need attention," said former APA President Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., the day before Veterans Day. "It's not just the troops but also their family members" who are suffering.

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Former APA President Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., urges mental health professionals to support Give an Hour, which connects volunteer providers with returning troops and their families. With her are leaders of other major mental health professional organizations, including (left ro right) Mary Ragan, Ph.D., American Association of Pastoral Counselors; Elizabeth Clark, Ph.D., National Association of Social Workers; Randy Phelps, Ph.D., American Psychological Association; Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis (Ret.); Barbara Romberg, Ph.D., founder and president of Give an Hour; Adm. Donald Arthur (Ret.); U.S. Army veteran Jennifer Crane. 

Credit: Aaron Levin

Robinowitz spoke at a press conference organized by Give an Hour, a nonprofit group in which psychiatrists and mental health professionals donate an hour a week of their time to helping these war veterans and their loved ones cope with the stresses of service, combat, and separation (Psychiatric News, March 7).

APA and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors have been working with Give an Hour for much of the last year, said founder Barbara Romberg, Ph.D., who welcomed the additional participation of the American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers to the program during the same press conference.

Give an Hour was developed to address needs not currently met by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments.

"Americans respect our servicemen and women but few understand them," said Romberg, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Washington, D.C. "They are asking for our time, expertise, and compassion. The most important service we can provide is to hear their stories and learn what they have been through."

Those who wear the uniform of the nation earn a commitment from the nation, stated APA member and retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis, a U.S. Army medical corps officer for 28 years, who chaired the press conference.

"Combat changes everyone, and many need help coping," said Xenakis. "Many service members have not yet asked for help because of the stigma for the unseen wound. We need to remove the stigma, and seeking help should not be labeled as a disorder."FIG1

"Saying 'thanks' isn't enough," added retired Adm. Donald Arthur, a former Navy surgeon general who is now chief medical officer at Main Line Health System in Bryn Mawr, Pa. "We should honor their service with an hour of service—an hour a week to listen, helping to heal the absolutely normal effects of extraordinary circumstances."

Along with providing services, the professional organizations and the Department of Defense must do more to reduce the opprobrium attached to seeking help, the speakers said.

"Two-thirds of military people in one survey said that seeking help would have a negative effect on their careers," said Robinowitz." We need more poster children—generals, colonels, admirals—to come forth and show that mental health treatment improves lives and careers."

More information about Give an Hour is posted at<www.giveanhour.org>.

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Former APA President Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., urges mental health professionals to support Give an Hour, which connects volunteer providers with returning troops and their families. With her are leaders of other major mental health professional organizations, including (left ro right) Mary Ragan, Ph.D., American Association of Pastoral Counselors; Elizabeth Clark, Ph.D., National Association of Social Workers; Randy Phelps, Ph.D., American Psychological Association; Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis (Ret.); Barbara Romberg, Ph.D., founder and president of Give an Hour; Adm. Donald Arthur (Ret.); U.S. Army veteran Jennifer Crane. 

Credit: Aaron Levin

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