On October 28, 2017, the VFW and Give an Hour , the lead organization for the Campaign to Change Direction, are partnering for the Second Annual A Day to Change Direction, a national day of service and action to change the dialogue on mental health for America’s veterans and American 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 to host a screening of the documentary Into the Light followed by a group discussion 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 all Americans to pay attention to their emotional well-being as well as the emotional well-being of others.

VFW Commander-in-Chief, Keith E. Harman

Steps to Participate

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

Step Two: Identify & plan a screening of the documentary Into the Light or identify a community service project. Samples of possible events are below.

Step Three: Prepare for the event by using the tools below to market your event and educate yourself on the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering and the Healthy Habits of Emotional Well-being.

Step Four:  Host A Day to Change Direction.

Into the Light Trailer

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.

Before the Service Project

Tools to help promote participation in the event.

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 HERE.  A discussion guide is included on the DVD.

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/ lawn 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” Posters in your community.
  • Make a Proclamation. View a Sample.

Five Signs Tools

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.

Educational Tools:

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

Five Faces Icon

  • 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

During the Service Project

Tools to help on the day of the event.

At the event:

  • Have participants sign into a simple registration form that includes their names and email addresses.
  • Show the documentary Into the Light followed by a group discussion, using the discussion guide included with the DVD.
  • Distribute the Five Signs Talking Points and the Healthy Habits Talking Points.
  • Hang this poster at your VFW Post – Change Direction poster with VFW logo
  • Post photos of your screening and service project on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #ChangeMentalHealth and #VFWPostPride

After the Service Project

Tools to measure collective impact.

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

Give an Hour is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), founded in September 2005 by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a psychologist in the Washington, D.C. area. The organization’s mission is to harness the expertise and generosity of volunteer mental health professionals capable of responding to both acute and chronic conditions that arise within our society. Currently, GAH is dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of the troops and families affected by the post-9/11 conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. GAH provides counseling to individuals, couples and families, and children and adolescents. www.giveanhour.org

About The Campaign to Change Direction

The Campaign to Change Direction, a national initiative to change the culture of mental health in America, encourages Americans to care for their mental well-being just as they do their physical well-being. Led by Give an Hour, Change Direction addresses common barriers to understanding mental health and raises awareness about Five Signs that may indicate someone is suffering emotionally and needs help: change in personality, agitation, withdrawal, decline in personal care, and hopelessness. With over 500 partner organizations using their unique skills and opportunities to spread awareness, this collective impact effort will reach over 200 million Americans over the next five years.

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

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