The Eli Lilly and Company Foundation has announced a $1 million grant to Give an Hour and the American Psychiatric Foundation to expand a national effort to meet the unmet mental health needs of returning U.S. soldiers and their families.
GAH and APF, the philanthropic arm of the American Psychiatric Association, will work to recruit mental health professionals to volunteer an hour each week for at least a year to provide services such as marital and family therapy and substance-abuse counseling in person, by phone, or in cooperation with schools and community organizations. The volunteers will become part of a national network that addresses postwar mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, drug abuse, anxiety, and depression over the next three years.
Among troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, approximately 40 percent of soldiers, a third of Marines, and half of National Guard members report psychological problems. While the U.S. Department of Defense has encouraged personnel to seek mental health treatment, a significant increase in demand has forced the rationing of services, created long waiting lists, and limited individual counseling sessions in some areas. At the same time, some members of military families do not qualify for care through the Veterans Administration or DOD, even though they are affected by the mental health of the veterans in their families.
"This grant will allow us to get out the message that help is available. We want to normalize what our military personnel and their families are experiencing and support the sacrifices that they are making by providing critical mental health support at no cost," said Barbara V. Romberg, founder and president of GAH. "We will be educating the military community and broader public about these mental health needs in hope of helping veterans keep their lives and families intact."