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Iraq Vet: “Group Helped Save My Life, That’s Why I Work For Them.”

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January 7, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The volunteer organization Give An Hour asks mental health professionals to set aside an hour a week to help veterans and their families. According to Army Reserve Lt. Sylvia Bowersox, it works.

This week, Bowersox was in West Virginia, which has one of the highest percentages of vets in the country. She says after two and a half years in Iraq she came back with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her life was in crisis - then her husband found Give An Hour.

"When I came back from Iraq for the last time in January '07, I was not doing well. I quite mean it: The treatment that I received - and this is from both Give An Hour and the V.A. - it saved my life."

Now Bowersox is Military Outreach Officer with the organization. She came to West Virginia to publicize its mission and recruit volunteers.

Bowersox says her recovery was tough and it took a long time, but she says it works to get help.

"A man's walking down the street and falls in a hole. Guy comes by and says 'you're in this hole, you should get out.' And he says 'thanks so much.' And another guy walks by and he jumps in the hole with him. And he says, 'what did you do that for?' And he says, 'I've been down here before; I know how to get out.'"

Give An Hour has delivered an estimated $1.7 million worth of free services to vets and their families. Help can be found by zip code at the organization's web site, www.giveanhour.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV