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Group gives Illinois Vets Help, One Hour at a Time

February 15, 2010

Chicago, IL - The volunteer organization Give an Hour asks mental health professionals to set aside one hour a week to help military veterans and their families. Joslyn Jelinek, a licensed clinical social worker, does just that. She has been a volunteer for two years and is one of several therapists in Illinois who offer services.

She says the program is important for vets and their families in dealing with issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"There are changes in the family dynamic. There also may be changes in the veteran that everybody needs to process, and it's really rewarding to see how much they work together."

Because of repeat deployments, many veterans don't get time to de-stress, Jelinek adds.

Army Reserve Lt. Sylvia Bowersox says the program is working for her family. After two and a half years in Iraq, she came back with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 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. The treatment that I've received, from both Give an Hour and the V.A., it saved my life."

Give an Hour officials say that while the Veteran's Administration does a good job, many returning vets hesitate to seek help because they do not want to "go on the record" with mental health issues.

Volunteers for Give an Hour have delivered $1.7 million worth of free mental health services to military families.

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

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL