She secures treatment for vets' invisible wounds
November 28, 2012
By Catherine Laughlin
For The Inquirer
The unkempt man was wearing fatigues, standing in the street and holding a sign that read, "Vietnam vet. Please help. God bless."
The year was 2005 and Barbara Van Dahlen, a licensed clinical psychologist, was driving with her then-9-year-old daughter, who asked why the man was begging in the world's richest country.
It was a moment that helped propel Van Dahlen into her official mission, the founding that year of Give an Hour, a national nonprofit providing free mental health services to military personnel and their families affected by the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other post-9/11 conflicts. (Give an Hour recently expanded to include victims and first responders dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.) Since 2007, Van Dahlen has mobilized 6,500 licensed professionals, who have given away 70,000 hours of therapy set up through giveanhour.org.
The organization runs on a $1.5 million budget - grants, sponsorships, and private donations - with 17 employees who help train providers. In addition, hundreds of volunteers counsel at schools, and take part in suicide-prevention conferences and other outreach organizations.
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