Silver Star Families of America launched a new program, Hear4You, Aug. 1 that lends helpful hands to Soldiers.
The organization receives many e-mails from Soldiers who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, but do not, for whatever reason, want to contact their doctors. The latest program gives Soldiers and family a one-on-one forum to get support for such issues from volunteers. “We’re not physicians, but we hope to lend a listening ear,” said Janie Orman, vice president of SSFOA.
The program allows anyone to e-mail or instant message Hear4You volunteers for support and someone to “listen” when they want to talk. Tracey Rucks, a SSFOA volunteer, came up with the idea after seeing a post on the SSFOA forum from a person venting frustrations related to PTSD. Rucks was reminded of her time volunteering at a hotline for rape victims and began to wonder if something similar could be created for Soldiers and their loved ones.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘Is there not someplace for these people to go to vent?’” she said.
After doing some research, she found a need for such a program and worked with SSFOA to start Hear4You.
“Our plan is to reach the military — not only the troops but their families — that are affected by PTSD, whether it’s diagnosed or undiagnosed,” Rucks said. “We’re just going to be there to listen to ... anything they want to talk about.”
The volunteers are not counselors and are not there to give advice, but to listen and provide a person to communicate with in a non-judgmental, confidential environment, she said.
Silver Star Families of America was created about two years ago by a retired military member who wanted to recognize wounded military personnel. The organization honors the wounded with a silver star banner and flag.
Similar to the gold star and blue star banners, the silver star banner represents a service member wounded in combat, Orman said.
The organization has given out about 1,000 silver star banners so far and is seeking recognition from the Department of Defense for the program, Orman said.
The program also tries to assist the wounded in several different ways. Another program launched last month, in partnership with Soldiers’ Angels, provides hand-held video games to wounded service members. Any service member who is hospitalized because of wounds suffered in combat can get a free game system and games, Orman said.
“It’s something that can help occupy their time while they’re recuperating,” she said.
SSFOA has fast-food cards available for wounded service members, also, to offer a change from hospital food, Orman said.
The organization also teamed up with GiveAnHour, which provides one free hour of PTSD help from volunteer mental health care providers.
For more information on service from Silver Star Families of America, visit www.silverstarfamilies.org.