A Day to Change Direction

In Partnership with the VFW

On September 14, 2019, the VFW and Give an Hour , the lead organization for the Campaign to Change Direction, are partnering for the Fourth Annual A Day to Change Direction, a national day of service and action to change the dialogue on mental health for veterans and their communities.

VFW Posts are encouraged to host events that will educate your community about the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering and the Healthy Habits of Emotional Well-being. You can choose from a number of events to do. For example you can host a screening of the documentary Into the Light followed by a group discussion or host your own discussion about mental health or you can participate in or host a community service event.

Collectively, we believe in gathering together veterans and their families, community members, and clinicians to connect in a positive environment. Furthermore, we want to use this as an opportunity to encourage everyone to pay attention to their emotional well-being as well as the emotional well-being of others.

Photos from Previous A Day to Change Direction Events

Join us on September 14th!

Steps to Participate

Step One: VFW Posts and Auxiliary interested in participating will identify a central point of contact and report this to VFW Programs Director, Lynn Rolf at LRolf@vfw.org.

Step Two: Plan a community service project, a mental health presentation and discussion or a screening of the documentary Into the Light. Samples of possible events are below.

Step Three: Market your event and educate yourself on the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering and the Healthy Habits of Emotional Well-being.

Step Four: Host your project and let us know how it went by filling out the event form.

Helpful Tools for Your Project

Educational Tools:

Five Faces Icon

  • Learn the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering through an online course here.
  • Download the Five Signs Fact Sheet.


  • Learn the Healthy Habits of Emotional Well-being here.
  • Download the Healthy Habits Fact Sheet.

Make an organizational pledge:

If you would like to make a pledge through the Campaign to Change Direction directly, your logo will be shown on this site under the view pledges – community/group pledges.

  Make a Pledge

Marketing Suggestions:

Invite your VFW & Auxiliary members as well as members of the community to join your event.

Sample Social Media Posts:


Join VFW Post _____ as we participate in A Day of Service on {DATE}. Together with @Giveanhour and the @Campaigntochangedirection we can #ChangeMentalHealth. #VFWPostPride


Join VFW Post ____ for A Day to Change Direction {DATE}. Together w/ @giveanhour & @signsforchange we can #ChangeMentalHealth. #VFWPostPride


Insert Picture with caption: Join VFW Post _____ as we participate in A Day of Service on {DATE}. Together with @giveanhour and the @changedirection we can #ChangeMentalHealth. #VFWPostPride

Buy a T-Shirtscreen-shot-2017-10-11-at-2-23-07-pmOrder yours from the VFW Store.

Into the Light Documentary Screening:

Download A Day to Change Direction Sample Screening Agenda that can be used for your screening.

To request a DVD of Into the Light fill out this form.  A discussion guide is included in the DVD package or you can download it here.

Sample screening events:

  • Host a potluck at your VFW Post.
  • Partner with a local organization to co-host the screening.
    • Library, community center, hospital, YMCA, church
  • Partner with a local business to co-host a screening open to the public.
    • Billiard hall, restaurant, corporation

Service Projects:

Download A Day to Change Direction Sample Service Project Agenda that can be used for your project.

Sample projects:

  • Storytelling on emotional and mental wellness.
  • Visit residents at a VA domiciliary.
  • Paint or do maintenance at a VFW Post.
  • Host a fun run/walk to promote physical fitness and mental health.
  • Host yoga/meditation to promote physical/mental wellness.
  • Hang “VFW Five Signs” and “VFW Healthy Habits” Posters in your community.
  • Make a Proclamation. View a Sample.

Five Signs Tools

During the Service Project

Administrative Items:

  • Have participants sign into a simple registration form.
  • Hand out Five Signs and Healthy Habits mini posters or wallet cards.
  • Post photos of your screening and service project on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #ChangeMentalHealth and #VFWPostPride

Hang Five Signs Posters

Download Poster

Hang Healthy Habits Posters

Download Poster

Into the Light focuses on Brendan O’Toole, a former Marine, and his struggle to assimilate back into society after returning from war and Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president of Give an Hour, as she comes to the realization that she needs to share her own story.

Ultimately this is a film about trust…the trust we put in one another so we can feel safe to tell our stories. The film’s purpose is simple and direct: to serve as a conversation starter for millions of people to change the culture around mental health, mental illness and emotional well-being.

After the Service Project

In an effort to measure the national impact of A Day of Service, please download and fill out the very short reporting form below. Once complete, email or fax it to VFW Programs Department as listed on the form.

 A Day to Change Direction Report Form

Additional Information

About Give an Hour

Founded by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a psychologist in the Washington, D.C., area, Give an Hour’s mission is to develop networks of skill-based volunteer professionals capable of responding to both acute and chronic conditions prevalent within society. Since 2005, the nonprofit organization has provided free mental health services to U.S. service members, veterans, and their families. In 2015, Give an Hour expanded efforts to address the mental health needs of other populations including at risk teens, survivors of gun violence, victims of human trafficking and those affected by natural and man-made disasters. In addition, Give an Hour is now working internationally to provide information and services to address the needs of those who are in emotional pain around the world. Through the generosity, compassion, and expertise of Give an Hour’s skilled volunteers, we are able to increase the likelihood that those in need receive the support and care they deserve. Thus far, the U.S. network of nearly 7,000 licensed mental health professionals has provided more than 265,000 hours of care and support to those in need. Learn more at www.giveanhour.org and www.changedirection.org.

About The Campaign to Change Direction

The Campaign to Change Direction, a public health initiative focused on changing the culture of mental health, encourages everyone to care for their mental well-being just as they do their physical well-being. The campaign is led by Give an Hour, a US based nonprofit organization providing free mental health services to those in need including our military and veteran community. Change Direction addresses common barriers to understanding mental health and raises awareness about Five Signs of Emotional Suffering that may indicate someone is in emotional pain and needs help: change in personality, agitation, withdrawal, decline in personal care, and hopelessness. Over 700 partner organizations are using their unique skills and opportunities to spread awareness. Organizations and individuals who are interested in learning more or making a pledge can visit www.changedirection.org.

About the VFW

VFW is a nonpartisan, congressionally chartered 501(c)(19) veterans’ service organization that was founded in 1899. Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., it is the nation’s largest organization of combat veterans from all services, and the nation’s oldest major veterans’ organization. The VFW Washington Office was created in 1919 to advocate for legislation that enhances the programs and services provided to America’s veterans, service members, and their families. www.vfw.org

Message for 2017 Project from former VFW Commander-in-Chief, Keith E. Harman

Give an Hour/Change Direction Point of Contact is Nickie Silverstein: nsilverstein@giveanhour.org.
VFW Point of Contact is Lynn Rolf: Lrolf@vfw.org.