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Give an Hour to Fill the Gap for WV Vets

November 3, 2008

Charleston, WV – The gift of time for the holidays and beyond is being requested in West Virginia. Licensed mental health clinicians are being asked to donate one hour of services each week to members of the military, veterans or their families, as part of the nationwide Give an Hour network.

Research from West Virginia University shows that 30 percent of the troops coming back to the state from Iraq and Afghanistan have some level of post-traumatic stress.

Give an Hour founder Barbara Romberg says documentation abounds showing that the Veterans Health Administration is not able to help all those soldiers. That's why she's encouraging volunteers to step up.

"We're seeing the full range of mental health issues, and then in addition to that, we're seeing a very large number of folks coming back with traumatic brain injuries."

Romberg says those who need guidance to help sort out their feelings and experiences usually find success with mental health treatment. Those who don't get treatment often try to treat themselves, creating another medical issue.

"Because of those kinds of very powerful emotions that occur when someone is in combat, sometimes people turn to substance abuse to medicate."

The goal is to create a network across the nation, according to Romberg, so soldiers can get help right away without traveling far, and without the red tape that often comes with veteran benefits.

Gov. Manchin has partnered with the National Association of Social Workers in West Virginia to encourage professionals to join the Give an Hour network and encourage soldiers to ask for help.

Veterans, soldiers and their families seeking assistance can go to

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - WV