Providers Sought to Offer Free Mental Health Care to Veterans

Article excerpt

A volunteer organization is seeking psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to join its network of providers who are helping to meet the demand for services among military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families.

The Give an Hour network has 3,000 providers who have agreed to offer counseling for at least an hour a week for 1 year, said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen Romberg, the founder and president. Dr. Romberg, a psychiatrist in private practice in the Washington area, started the nonprofit organization in 2006. The network began offering services in July 2007.

Since that time, the providers have given 4,700 hours of service-in direct counseling, but also in training and giving talks to military and family groups, Dr. Romberg said in an interview.

She began the organization in the wake of media reports that the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs were struggling to meet the mental health needs of soldiers returning from deployments.

Dr. Romberg began offering her own time to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and figured that if she could do it-as a single mother with a busy practice-maybe other clinicians would be willing and able. Following the craigslist model, she created a clearinghouse for those offering and those seeking services.

Searching by Zip code, soldiers and family members looking for help can find volunteer providers in their area. …