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Group gives Virginia Vets Help, One Hour at a Time

February 8, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. - The volunteer organization Give An Hour asks mental health professionals to set aside one hour a week to help military veterans and their families. Dr. Jim Fuller is a psychotherapist in Richmond, and an ex-Marine, who does just that. Fuller has been a volunteer for more than a year, and is one of several therapists in Virginia who offer their services.

Fuller says the program is important for vets and their families in dealing with issues such as post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD). He adds that, while the Veterans Administration (VA) does a good job, many returning vets hesitate to seek help there because they do not want to "go on the record" with mental health issues.

"I have found that these people like to have some sort of counseling or psychotherapy service that's not connected with the military."

According to Army Reserve Lieutenant Sylvia Bowersox, the program works. After two-and-a-half years in Iraq, she says, she came back with PTSD. Bowersox says her life was in crisis, and 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, that the treatment that I've received, and this is from both Give An Hour and the VA, it saved my life."

Give An Hour says volunteers have delivered $1.7 million worth of free mental health services for military families.

Help can be found by ZIP code on the group's Web site giveanhour.org

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA