Responding to a national appeal for mental health volunteers to assist with disaster relief efforts is an altruistic act. However, the reality of the actual work of a mental health volunteer can be jarring. In the course of providing services to traumatized individuals, mental health providers are in a position to share the emotional burden of the trauma, become a witness to the damage, recognize the realities of dealing with federal and state agencies, and observe the inequitable distribution of resources. The following is my story of what it was like before, during, and after my experience as a mental health volunteer in the Gulfport/Biloxi, Mississippi area two months after the destruction of August 2005. I hope that sharing my story will encourage other mental health counselors to play a role in responding to the needs created by events like Hurricane Katrina.

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