The following programs were awarded grants as part of the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s 2019 Fall Portfolio.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Community Leader Program
Combined Arms unites a community of service providers to improve and accelerate services to Houston veterans. Currently, veterans in the Houston metropolitan area have access to the 395 programs provided by 56-member organizations within the Combined Arms collaborative. This grant will deliver that access to Harvey-impacted veterans in the rural Texas Gulf Coast region. Combined Arms will identify, train, and equip 100 leaders across the region to identify and connect with local Harvey-impacted veterans, identify their enduring needs, and connect them with the resources to address those needs. Each leader will connect to, and resolve the challenges of at least five veterans, resulting in a minimum of 500 veterans, and potentially many more, served by this significant outreach effort. This grant, made possible by a partnership between the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Qatar Harvey Fund, will enable the training and technology needs of 100 leaders empowering them to reach veterans who have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI)
Operation Family Caregiver-Gulf Coast Region
The spouses and family members who care at home for wounded veterans have an increased likelihood of depression and other negative health outcomes; low productivity and problems at work; relationship distress; and increased financial difficulty. The challenges for post-9/11 military caregivers are even more acute than those caring for veterans from earlier eras. Post-9/11 caregivers tend to be younger, more likely to juggle work with caregiving duties, and less likely to have support. They are also four times more likely than non-caregivers to be depressed. Operation Family Caregiver (OFC) is the only evidence-based, one-on-one military caregiver support program showing improved physical and mental health among caregivers. OFC is a personalized program, where highly trained OFC experts train and “coach” each family with the skills to navigate their challenges, resulting in stronger and healthier families. This grant, made possible by a partnership between the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Qatar Harvey Fund, will enable RCI to expand the Operation Family Caregiver program to the Gulf Coast of Texas and provide vital caregiving coaching to at least 100 families. Because of the prevalence of Spanish-speaking caregivers in the Texas Gulf Coast, this grant will also translate the OFC curriculum into Spanish.
Rutgers University Foundation
Vets4Warriors provides critical “upstream support” to veterans and their families so that they receive the services they need (emergency financial aid, connection to mental healthcare, peer support, etc.) before they reach the point of crisis. Every call, text, and email from a veteran is answered by Vets4Warriors peers, who are all veterans, military family members, or caregivers. The shared experience of military service allows peers to deepen the trust and to bond with veteran participants. Peers work with participants to identify and make progress toward achieving life goals such as pursuing education, improving family dynamics, and accessing mental health services. With this grant, made possible by a partnership between the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Qatar Harvey Fund, Vets4Warriors will target their outreach to the Texas Gulf Coast region to reach veterans affected by Hurricane Harvey who need upstream support and peer connection so that the challenges they are facing are mitigated before they reach the point of crisis. Vets4Warriors is especially focused on the more rural areas, where support is less available. This grant will serve approximately 400 veterans, including at least 250 individuals impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
The Mission Continues
Operation Bayou City Blitz
The Mission Continues (TMC) empowers veterans, addressing their need to serve and demonstrating their talent and skills to the local community while also improving local communities and increasing the military-civilian understanding and appreciation. TMC conducts annual large-scale veteran empowerment and community improvement operations, with tremendous success. In June 2020, The Mission Continues will activate veterans from the Houston and Gulf Coast region, as well as veteran leaders from across the country, for a week of service projects in communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. TMC will partner with local community organizations to produce significant and sustainable positive change in neighborhoods still recovering from Hurricane Harvey. This grant, made possible by a partnership between the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Qatar Harvey Fund, will provide personal growth and empowerment for 500 local veterans and 100 veterans from across the country who participate in Operation Bayou Blitz, and will improve the community resources for innumerable veterans who reside in these storm-damaged areas.
Veterans Yoga Project
Veterans Yoga Project Yoga Teacher Training
Veterans Yoga Project (VYP) is dedicated to supporting recovery and resilience among our veterans, active duty military members, families, and communities. VYP logs 1,500 veteran visits each month at their Mindful Resilience yoga classes, in partnership with 18 VA hospitals, 17 Vet Centers, and more than a dozen community-based veteran service organizations across the United States. With support from this NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyle and Creating Community (HLCC) grant, VYP will respond to the needs of our veterans with their newest program, the VYP 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). This unique yoga teacher training program will train veterans to teach yoga and Mindful Resilience classes safely and effectively to other veterans in trauma-sensitive civilian and military settings. This grant will provide the veteran graduates with the basic entry-level requirement for yoga teacher positions. Those newly trained yoga teachers will receive continued VYP mentorship as they teach other veterans through the network of 19 VYP Regional Teams.
Disabled Sports USA
Improving Quality of Life for Wounded, Ill and Injured Veterans Through Adaptive Sports
Disabled Sports USA, a nationwide network of 120-plus community-based chapters operating in 42 states, provides disabled individuals independence and confidence through sports and educational programs. DSUSA’s Warfighter Sports program employs adaptive sports to rebuild the lives of severely wounded, ill, and injured post-9/11 veterans and service members. Adapt2Achieve trainings teach instructors best practices for program administration and feature opportunities for hands-on, practical training exercises so that instructors can continue to provide safe, best-in-class adaptive sports opportunities in their communities. This NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyle and Creating Community (HLCC) grant will provide both community-based adaptive sports opportunities to post-9/11 veterans and service members, and also Adapt2Achieve training to instructors from programs around the country. This groundbreaking grant will also fund the first ever implementation of wheelchair football, giving veterans the opportunity to participate in wheelchair football in DSUSA chapters across the country. With this HLCC grant, DSUSA will develop the rules, framework, officials training content, and the competition and training schedule, to create and support a sustainable infrastructure that DSUSA chapters and other adaptive sports programs can build upon to expand the availability of wheelchair football nationally.
Armed Services Arts Partnership
ASAP’s Community Hubs
Armed Services Arts Partnership cultivates community and improves well-being for veterans, service members, military families, and caregivers through the arts. To date more than 800 veterans, service members, military family members, and caregivers have participated in more than 225 classes and workshops in Washington DC and Hampton Roads communities. ASAP delivers art classes teaching comedy, creative writing, improvisation, acting, drawing, and storytelling. A 2018 evaluation funded by BWF found that veterans and military family members who participate in their program increase social support, sense of purpose, resilience, and self-esteem. However, there is still a need for continual engagement in community based arts programing to maintain the outcomes from their initial program. This NFL-BWF Salute to Service Grant will support ASAP’s Community Hubs allowing 220 veterans to enjoy sustained improvements to their well-being through continual access to the supportive arts community and engagement.
Research Foundation of the City University of New York on behalf of Hunter College
Project for Return and Opportunity in Veterans Education (PROVE)
PROVE’s mission is to ensure student veterans on City University of New York (CUNY) campuses have a successful educational journey by aiding them in their transition from the military to a college community. PROVE’s social work interns and experienced field instructors provide both peer assistance and supervised professional counseling support to student veterans. Concurrently the PROVE program trains those social work interns in the specific needs and concerns of the modern-day student veteran and thus increases the military cultural competency of upcoming professional social workers. This NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyle and Creating Community (HLCC) grant will support the operations of the PROVE program at 10 CUNY campuses throughout the NYC area.
National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, Department of Health Policy & Management, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University
Bridging Connections Between Health Care and Legal Services to Improve Veterans’ Lives
Many post-9/11 veterans experience an array of complex needs at the intersection of health and poverty. MLPs address complex social factors that affect veterans’ housing, health, and well-being that cannot be properly remedied without the assistance of an attorney. Some VA Medical Centers have established Medical-Legal partnerships (MLP) to address the social determinants of health negatively impacting veterans, but 39 states are still without a VHA facilities with an MLP. Fortunately, there is growing support to strengthen the ability for third party legal service agencies to provide this evidence-based legal support within VA medical facilities. This BWF grant will allow the NCMLP to strengthen the integration of legal services into veteran health care settings by providing implementation guidance for VA MLP and developing a performance measurement guide to track VA MLP processes and outcomes, foster cross program learning, and contribute to the growth and standardization of VA MLP services.
Youth Mentoring for Post-9/11 Military Families of the Fallen
Tuesday’s Children’s Military Initiative for Families of the Fallen serves post-9/11 military children and families who have lost a service member. Tuesday’s Children’s innovative platform of programs—developed in partnership with recognized leaders in the fields of child development, family advocacy, crisis counseling and mentoring—addresses the needs of families at all stages of recovery from trauma and loss. The cornerstone of Tuesday’s Children’s suite of programs, Youth Mentoring encourages and supports mutually beneficial, longstanding relationships between adult role models and children ages 8-18. These mentorships enable children to grow emotionally and socially, and to build resilience and develop coping skills while making healthy choices. Studies show that youth mentoring from a consistent, stable, supportive adult role model reduces risky behaviors and fills an unmet need for children impacted by traumatic loss. This NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyle and Creating Community (HLCC) grant will empower long-term, supportive relationships between children who have lost a military parent or sibling and an effective mentor.
REHABILITATION AND RECOVERY
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
STRONG STAR Training Initiative: Gulf Coast
The South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience (STRONG STAR), is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research consortium funded by U.S. Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop and evaluate the most effective early interventions possible for the detection, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions in military service members and recently discharged veterans. This BWF grant builds on the current STRONG STAR Training Initiative infrastructure with a particular emphasis on increasing the clinical providers offering evidence-based treatment (EBT) in the Texas Gulf Coast. With this grant, made possible by a partnership between the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Qatar Harvey Fund, the STRONG STAR team will conduct three trainings, two on Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and one on Prolonged Exposure (PE), for at least 90 clinicians from the counties impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The STRONG STAR team will subsequently provide expert consultation to these mental health care providers as they provide PTSD treatment to at least three veterans each, who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The STRONG STAR team will also work directly with organizations to develop implementation and sustainability plans to ensure long-term success of EBTs for PTSD programs. This entire effort will train 90 providers and serve 270 veterans during the grant period, while creating an enduring capability to treat many more.
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Project Remission: Intensive Outpatient PTSD Treatment for Texas Gulf Coast Region Veterans
One of the most effective treatments for PTSD is Prolonged Exposure (PE), a cognitive-behavioral therapy in which patients are traditionally treated through weekly 90-minute sessions for 10-12 weeks. Unfortunately, PE is not currently available to many Texas Gulf Coast veterans. Work schedules that prohibit attending weekly appointments, living in an area with limited mental health resources, and limited or no access to expert PE therapists are just a few barriers that can interfere with Texas Gulf Coast veterans receiving outpatient PE. Access to PE is even more difficult to secure for veterans who do not qualify for VA services. This grant, made possible by a partnership between the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Qatar Harvey Fund, will build upon STRONG STAR’s recent Project Remission randomized clinical trial (RCT). Project Remission: Intensive Outpatient PTSD Treatment for Texas Gulf Coast Region Veterans will provide effective cutting-edge PTSD treatment to 40 veterans from the Texas Gulf Coast region through a 3-week, intensive, individualized, daily outpatient program using a Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy protocol. The intensive outpatient format, coupled with travel assistance to the San Antonio program location, ensures that Texas Gulf Coast veterans will receive high-quality treatment with expert PE providers. The daily format also increases the potential for rapid recovery. Importantly, this program targets patients’ top three most distressing traumas to achieve greater symptom reduction and improved functioning for veterans suffering from the most severe PTSD, and thus stands apart from most PE programs that address only a veteran’s single worst trauma.
Support for Post 9/11 Military Families Impacted by Hurricane Harvey
Easter Seals of Greater Houston, Inc.
Unmet mental health needs in veterans and their families can result in higher risks for co-occurring psychological problems, increased physical health problems and mortality, missed work/lower productivity, high risk of homelessness, and both lower academic performance and higher suicide risk for veteran’s children. Further, a significant number of veterans began civilian life with significant personal debt, limited financial/budgeting experience and no plan for how to keep their family solvent. This is especially true of the clients Easter Seals has served post-Harvey, over 80% of whom have low to very low income. Easter Seals of Greater Houston, Inc., one of the biggest providers helping families recover from the impact and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, is addressing the pressing need for mental health services and financial literacy by providing individual and group mental health counseling, peer to peer support, and financial coaching. This grant, made possible by a partnership between the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Qatar Harvey Fund, will support mental health counseling to decrease veterans’ depression and anxiety and to improve participants’ quality of life. This grant will also fund financial counseling to help veterans reduce debt, increase assets, and improve their financial planning skills. Easter Seals of Greater Houston will serve 100 post-9/11 families impacted by Hurricane Harvey with this grant.
Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc.
Military Family Wellness Center at Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute
Although the Veteran’s Choice program has enabled more veterans to seek care outside the Veterans Affairs (VA), community providers often lack the requisite training and experience required to provide mental health care to military veterans, and veterans’ families often lack access to mental healthcare. The Military Family Wellness Center at Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute (MFWC) addresses these gaps in service by providing high-quality, cost-free, evidence-based mental health treatment in a confidential, non-governmental setting to veterans and their family members who do not benefit from, do not qualify for, or refuse services through, the VA system. The Center routinely employs cognitive-behavior therapy, prolonged exposure, emotionally-focused couples’ therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and pharmacotherapy. This BWF grant will provide best-in-class mental health assessment and treatment for 38 post-9/11 veterans or family members, resulting in symptom reduction and improved quality of life.
Trustees of Boston University
Strength at Home National Implementation
Individuals suffering from PTSD are at three times higher risk for domestic violence, and approximately one-third of veterans seeking treatment for PTSD report that they have engaged in physical Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the previous year. Strength at Home, launched in coordination with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, reduces domestic violence in military and veteran families. Strength at Home intervenes to address conditions specific to veterans, and provides tools to maintain a healthy relationship and to mitigate challenges before family interactions become criminal offenses, which both hurt family members and can impact eligibility for VA benefits. Strength at Home employs a cognitive behavioral intervention and is the first evidence-based program to reduce both physical and psychological IPV. This BWF grant will allow Strength at Home to identify, train, and support a network of VA clinicians who ensure effective delivery of the Strength at Home program to at least 425 veterans, to reduce their use of IPV. This specific effort will identify and train 10 regional trainers, who will provide training and consultation to 120 clinicians. This grant will also support the initial implementation of the Strength at Home program at 10 new VA sites.
EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT
Services for the Underserved, Inc. (SUS)
Veterans Education to Employment (VEEP)
The New York City Metropolitan area is a highly desirable area for veterans to live, learn and settle after separating from the Armed Forces. Many veterans pursue education and training programs using their Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits, specifically in New York City because it affords among the highest housing allowances in the nation. Unfortunately, many student veterans exhaust their benefits before finishing their degrees. Others use benefits for courses and unaccredited programs that do not result in long-term career prospects, perpetuating underemployment and housing instability. Because employment is fundamental to helping the most at-risk veterans rise from poverty into rewarding and fulfilling careers the Veterans Education to Employment (VEEP) program addresses issues holistically. Program staff provide benefits, housing and career counseling, offer financial guidance, and connect veterans to high-quality education and training programs with real career paths. The program helps some of NYC’s most vulnerable veterans prepare for civilian employment, secure interviews, enter new careers, and subsequently follows up with additional necessary support to ensure individual success. This Bob Woodruff Foundation grant will support VEEP programming for 175 post-9/11 veterans.
HVAF of Indiana
HVAF Employment Program
HVAF of Indiana provides services to homeless and near-homeless veterans and families in Indianapolis, Indiana. This NFL-BWF Salute to Service grant supplements federal funding to support homeless veterans, because many homeless veterans do not satisfy the federal criteria for homelessness. Veterans who have found shelter with family or friends, veterans sleeping on a couch or in their car, or members of the National Guard who do not meet the definition of veteran. This grant will permit HVAF to provide employment services to twenty at-risk post-9/11 veterans who do not qualify for similar federal programs. The HVAF services include transitional housing with intensive case management, rapid rehousing and rental assistance, and employment services. These employment services will help veterans gain the skills necessary to obtain long-term employment in sustainable industries in the Indianapolis region such as IT or logistics and help them be successful in their job search by providing resume prep, interview coaching, and new clothes.
Launch Lab Online
About 200,000 military service members transition every year and nearly 25 percent express a desire to start a business, yet currently only 4.5 percent of post-9/11 veterans do so. The Launch Lab Online (LLO) supports a diverse post-9/11 population of service members, veterans, caregivers and family members. LLO teaches participants about entrepreneurship and enables them to initiate their business plans while managing other work and family commitments. The program is especially accommodating to geographically-remote or homebound disabled veterans and their caregivers. This NFL-BWF Salute to Service grant enables veterans and military families to learn about entrepreneurship, assess and validate the viability of a business plan, and determine whether they are ready to take steps to pursue their entrepreneurship opportunity.