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Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D.
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Barbara Van Dahlen, named to TIME magazine's 2012 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, is the founder and president of Give an Hour. A licensed clinical psychologist who has been practicing in the Washington, D.C., area for over 20 years, she received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland in 1991.

Concerned about the mental health implications of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dr. Van Dahlen founded Give an Hour in 2005. The organization has created a national network of mental health professionals who provide free services to U.S. troops, veterans, their loved ones, and their communities. Currently, the network has 7,000 providers, who have collectively given over $16.3 million worth of services. Give an Hour is now leading the Campaign to Change Direction, a collective impact effort to change the culture of mental health in America.

As part of her work with Give an Hour, Dr. Van Dahlen has joined numerous panels, conferences, and hearings on issues facing veterans. A featured speaker at the October 2012 TEDxMidAtlantic "Be Fearless" event, Dr. Van Dahlen has participated in discussions at the Pentagon, Department of Veterans Affairs, White House, and Congress, for example appearing on the White House June 2013 panel about mental health in America and testifying in March of 2013 before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on the topic “VA Mental Health Care: Ensuring Timely Access to High-Quality Care."

Dr. Van Dahlen and Give an Hour have received numerous awards. In addition to her selection in the 2012 TIME 100, in April 2012 Give an Hour was chosen as one of the five winners of the White House's Joining Forces Community Challenge, sponsored by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. Dr. Van Dahlen's earlier awards include WJLA 2009 Working Woman of the Year and the American Psychiatric Association’s 2009 Rosalee Weiss Distinguished Public Service award. In 2010 she was cited as one of Woman’s Day magazine’s 50 Women Who Are Changing the World, received the Maryland Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, and was selected as a featured speaker at the annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy. In 2013 she received the American Psychological Association’s Presidential Citation and the Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship of the Manhattan Institute. In 2014 she was named a Woman of Distinction by the Coastal Bend Women Lawyers Association, named to More Magazine's Fierce 50 list, and honored by the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army as an outstanding civilian who has made significant voluntary contributions to our military.

She has become a notable source and expert on the psychological impact of war on troops and families and a thought leader in mobilizing civilian constituencies in support of active duty service members, veterans, and their families. She has been interviewed by major media outlets such as AP, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, USA Today, CNN, NPR, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Newshour, and such military media outlets as Stars & Stripes, AUSA Magazine, and the Pentagon Channel.

Entries by Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D.

Hate Is a Mental Health Issue

(40) Comments | Posted June 25, 2015 | 2:42 PM

Our nation is struggling to comprehend yet another horrific act of violence. We are searching for answers to understand what prompted a 21-year-old man to brutally murder nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, after the church had welcomed him into its Bible study...

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Changing the Culture of Mental Health Can Help Us Prevent Tragedies

(6) Comments | Posted April 1, 2015 | 6:30 PM

The tragic news of the crash of the Germanwings jetliner in the French Alps on March 24 caused immediate shock, sadness, and an outpouring of sympathy and concern for the families of those who perished. Initially, questions focused on pilot error, mechanical failure and the fear that perhaps the crash...

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How Assumptions and Fears Prevent Us From Serving Those Who Serve

(0) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 1:27 PM

Veterans Day is a national holiday that we celebrate on Nov. 11. As is the case every year, there will be local events and parades in communities across the country to recognize the sacrifice and service of our veterans. In addition, this year there will be an impressive star-studded concert...

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Reaching Those Who Suffer: What We Must Learn From Robin William's Suicide

(0) Comments | Posted August 13, 2014 | 11:03 AM

Our nation is mourning the loss of Robin Williams and trying to make sense of how someone so gifted, so smart, and so well loved could be in such emotional pain that he chose to end his life rather than continue to fight against the thoughts and feelings that tormented...

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A Veteran Who Led by Example

(1) Comments | Posted July 31, 2014 | 4:04 PM

On July 29, I attended a memorial service for Steve Robinson at the Memorial Chapel at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia. As many familiar with the military and veteran community know, this is the chapel where services are held for military personnel and veterans who are then laid...

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Classy Awards Showcase a Different Kind of Achievement

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2014 | 3:17 PM

The Fifth Annual Classy Awards were held on Saturday evening May 3 in San Diego, California. While other events that took place that same day -- most notably the Kentucky Derby and the White House Correspondents Dinner -- received far more attention and coverage, the Classy Awards provided an extraordinary...

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The Right Question to Ask

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 10:34 AM

Here is what we know so far about the recent tragedy at Ft. Hood. We know that 34-year-old U.S. Army Specialist Ivan Lopez was born in Puerto Rico. He began his military service with the National Guard and then joined the Army in 2008. We know that he served for...

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Bipartisan Support for Those Who Serve

(0) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 1:12 PM

Members of Congress are often criticized for their partisan approach and their inability to successfully address the serious challenges facing our nation. Despite a few recent "breakthroughs" in the political gridlock in Washington, too often our politicians seem incapable of --or unwilling to--cross party lines to repair what has become...

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Our Responsibility to Veterans

(7) Comments | Posted November 10, 2013 | 12:12 PM

This year as we celebrate Veterans Day and honor the men, women, and families who serve our nation, we should think about how we as a society can move beyond the parades and beyond the recognition that war affects returning troops and their families. We must each take more personal...

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On Being Human

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2013 | 2:37 PM

Now that our government is -- for the time being -- functioning once again, we can turn our attention back to some of the important issues that confront our nation. For example, the war in Afghanistan is winding down. Most Americans assume that as the war ends and our service...

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Healing on the Home Front: Domestic Violence and Post-Traumatic Stress

(2) Comments | Posted March 13, 2013 | 4:08 PM

Despite the diversity of the U.S. military members who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, there still exists a popular misconception of the returning vet as the Marlboro man, a stoic figure wrestling alone with the after-effects of combat. After nearly a decade of providing mental health services to veterans,...

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Lifting the Ban and Military Sexual Trauma

(5) Comments | Posted January 30, 2013 | 9:28 AM

Last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the ban preventing female soldiers from officially serving in combat -- a decision that raised the urgency on efforts to address the festering crisis of sexual assault within the U.S. military. That crisis -- which claimed more than 50 victims of sexual assault...

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Attempted Suicide Is a Mental Health Issue

(1) Comments | Posted December 19, 2012 | 12:09 PM

The last 11 years of war have taken a tremendous toll on those who serve and their families. On that we can all agree. Tragically, suicide prevention within the military has proven to be one of the biggest challenges as the rates of attempts and deaths by suicide have

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Recognizing Options for Healing This Veterans Day

(0) Comments | Posted November 13, 2012 | 4:20 PM

As we celebrate Veterans Day I am reminded of the sacrifices made by our nation's service members, and I am proud that many of my fellow citizens paused on November 11 to honor those who defend and protect our country. I am also keenly aware that this generation of warriors...

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Psychological Wounds Take Toll on Post-9/11 Veterans

(1) Comments | Posted September 12, 2012 | 5:48 PM

On a sunny morning eleven years ago, the actions of terrorists opened America's eyes to unprecedented and complicated global challenges. As we remember the victims of those attacks, and honor those who answered our nation's call to serve in response, it's time to open our eyes to a new reality:...

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TIME 100 2012 Gala Toast: A Tribute to my Father

(1) Comments | Posted April 25, 2012 | 12:22 PM

My father was a first generation American. His mother was from Germany; his father came from Holland.

We are fairly certain that he lied about his age to join the Navy during WWII. We are absolutely certain that he fought in the Pacific, that he was injured and that...

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Veterans Day: The Misunderstood Mental Health Consequences of War

(40) Comments | Posted November 11, 2010 | 6:00 AM

On Veterans Day our nation honors the men and women who have served our country. Cities host parades, department stores have sales, schools and the Federal Government close. Most of us are thankful for a day off. Rarely do we stop to think about the tremendous sacrifices made by those...

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PBS 'This Emotional Life': Addressing the Psychological Impact of Combat

(7) Comments | Posted October 25, 2010 | 9:36 AM

Unlike the Vietnam veterans, this generation of warriors is coming home to a country that wants to support them. We don't blame them for our government's foreign policies, we recognize the sacrifices they make, we applaud them for their courage and bravery, and we proudly display magnets on our cars...

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PBS's 'This Emotional Life': Remembering the Psychological Impact of War, and Doing Something About It

(4) Comments | Posted May 27, 2010 | 8:00 AM

This Emotional Life is proud to support military families through a special campaign and toolkit to help families manage the emotional challenges of deployment. Find out more by signing up to receive news on our campaign.

On September 11, 2001, our nation went to war -- first in...

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PBS's 'This Emotional Life': The Meaning of Mother's Day for Military Moms

(2) Comments | Posted May 8, 2010 | 7:00 AM

As a child, I remember Mother's Day as a pleasant little holiday designed to remind us to appreciate all that our mothers do for us each and every day. We gave gifts, took our mother to brunch, and tried to be especially well behaved for the day. And then I...

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