2020 Spring Grants
The following programs were awarded grants as part of the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s 2020 Spring Portfolio.
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
STRONG STAR Training Initiative
The South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and
Resilience (STRONG STAR), is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research consortium that develops and evaluates the most effective early interventions for the detection, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions. Sleep problems are highly comorbid with PTSD, and treatment for sleep problems can be a gateway to resolving PTSD symptoms. STRONG STAR Training Initiative will provide three Learning Communities in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia and Nightmares (CBT-I&N) to train 65 veteran-serving mental health providers in CBT-I&N, improving service delivery in the Texas Gulf Coast area. This Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) grant, made possible by a partnership between BWF and the Qatar Harvey Fund (QHF), will also allow the STRONG STAR Training Initiative to expand the availability and scope of organizational consultation to help community providers in the Texas Gulf Coast improve their ability to implement and use evidence-based treatments. STRONG STAR will train organizations’ internal and external referral sources (e.g., case managers, intake coordinators, allied health providers) about PTSD screening and EBTs for PTSD. These internal and external referral sources are often the gatekeepers to treatment, but lack information and training in PTSD assessment and client engagement. With this funding, STRONG STAR will also develop a toolkit for participating organizations to assess and evaluate their veteran mental health program.
University of California, Los Angeles Foundation
Veterans Family Wellness Center
The UCLA/VA Veteran Family Wellness Center (VFWC) is part of a unique partnership between the University of California Los Angeles and the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System that offers high-quality, customized services and resilience-based behavioral health and wellness training that is complementary to traditional VA services. Every year over 12,000 veterans separate from military service and transition to civilian life in Los Angeles County. The TEAM (Transition, Education, And Mentoring) program is an individualized strengths-based transition resilience program designed to assist service member and veteran families through the challenges of life transitions before, during and after military service. VFWC provides the program in-person at the VFWC and virtually to participants across the LA region. This NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Communities grant will expand this program to serve more veterans and their families by hiring an additional facilitator and providing resources to build outreach programing.
Code of Support Foundation
Case Coordination Program
Code of Support’s Case Coordination Program works hand-in-hand with partner organizations to identify the resources veterans need for a healthy transition into American communities. Code of Support addresses the comprehensive needs of each veteran and family member to position them for long-term success. Case coordination will now play a more urgent role in the lives of veterans who are impacted by the economic or health-related fallout from COVID-19. This NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Communities grant will connect veterans to critical local social service resources and provide financial counseling to help veterans and their families improve their financial wellbeing and succeed in their community.
Families of the Fallen Intensive Clinical Program Support
Since 1994, TAPS has provided comfort, care, and resources to families and loved ones who have lost a military service member. Many who are suffering from grief struggle with providing the day-to-day essentials for their families. They are often single-income or single-parent households, and many are also facing either a reduction or overall loss of income in the wake of COVID-19. This increase in financial hardship, coupled with the transition to “social distancing” and self-quarantine has exacerbated existing anxiety and depression among survivors. The TAPS Peer Professionals are engaging with survivors 24/7, while the TAPS Casework Assistance Team addresses unprecedented requests for guidance and assistance with emergency financial support. This BWF grant will address the immediate emotional and financial needs of military survivors.
Veterans who had experienced homelessness preceding Hurricane Harvey struggled to maintain their housing following the storm. Family Houston’s Returning Home program connects veterans with the resources necessary to establish and maintain stable housing by providing items such as furniture, bedding, and dishware, as well as financial assistance for deposits and utilities. Meeting these everyday needs is a critical step toward ensuring that people feel “normal” and function in their homes. These provisions can even contribute to improved social functioning. In Houston and across the world, many people are struggling due to loss of work and financial uncertainty resulting from the community effect of COVID-19. This grant, made possible by a partnership between BWF and the Qatar Harvey Fund, will ensure that Family Houston’s case managers virtually provide veterans with the resources and assistance needed to maintain housing and utilities through this crisis, and will support Family Houston’s usual operations, once they can resume.
Connecticut Veterans Legal Center
Medical-Legal Partnerships (MLP) address complex social factors that affect veterans’ housing, health, and well-being that cannot be properly remedied without the assistance of an attorney. In light of the public health and economic impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is more important than ever to ensure that veterans access healthcare, secure adequate income, and maintain stable housing. Through their MLP with the VA Errera Community Care Center, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC) is serving a large influx of new clients with healthcare, employment, and general legal needs. CVLC also anticipates a surge of urgent housing cases once eviction moratoriums are lifted. This NFL-BWF emergency grant will enable CVLC to secure veterans’ benefits for additional income, remove employment barriers, and address health and wellness issues.
Harvard Law School
Estate Planning Project
The public health and economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis is creating a surge in veterans seeking civil legal assistance. The Estate Planning Project, which is part of The Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School (LSC), is dedicated exclusively to providing pro bono representation to low-income veterans to draft wills, healthcare proxies, powers of attorney, declarations of remains, and trusts. In addition, the Estate Planning Project assists veterans on a host of other planning topics, such as VA fiduciary issues and VA pension and Medicaid eligibility. The Estate Planning Project ensures that veterans who are vulnerable and may already be ill, retain maximum control over healthcare decisions and financial matters, and have peace of mind. As a leader in the legal aid community, situated in a world-class educational institution, LSC is uniquely positioned to serve a significant increase in veterans, both at their clinic and through referrals to pro bono partners in their network. This NFL-BWF grant will enable the Legal Services Center’s Estate Planning Project to respond to the current complex situation and the increasing demand for estate planning representation while protecting the health of the veteran, attorneys, and volunteer teams.
Merging Vets and Players
Merging Vets and Players (MVP) brings recently-transitioned veterans and former professional athletes together in a gym setting around a peer support curriculum. MVP provides these two unique populations, both of whom have recently removed a uniform, a new team to tackle transition together. MVP’s peer support intervention helps their participants identify challenges and connects them to community resources when they decide to seek help. MVP strengthens peer bonds and incentivizes participation by meeting in the comfort of gym setting. In the current climate when communities have enforced stay-at-home measures, MVP has pivoted their programing to virtual meetings and is continuing to work with participants to maintain their peer connection and physical health. This NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Communities grant will allow MVP to maintain the positive aspects of their programming through the crisis. Once services move back into the gym, MVP will standardize the programming across disparate locations to ensure successful growth of the program to new implementation sites.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.
Fly Tying Program
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) provides support, socialization, and camaraderie to wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans. Activities such as fly-tying help participants improve their hand-eye coordination, adaptive muscle memory, and balance, all while improving cognitive focus and helping participants cope with stress-related issues brought on by wounds of war. PHWFF offers a community where individuals with similar experiences and disabilities can engage with one another, building lifelong relationships and learning a new sport that encourages healthy outdoor activities. This NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Community grant will provide 1300 veterans across 130 program locations with tools and materials to participate in virtual fly-tying workshops alongside veterans in their community maintaining social connections while being physically distanced during COVID-19 conditions.
Trustees of Boston University
Women Veterans Network (WoVeN)
Many female veterans grew personally and professionally from their military service, but also experienced significant difficulties re-adapting to civilian life. The Women Veterans Network (WoVeN) is a peer support network designed to target the unique needs of female veterans. WoVeN offers an evidence-based, 8-session program led by vetted and trained peer leaders that improves the mental health, social support, and well-being of female veterans. Female veterans’ interest in WoVeN has increased rapidly, and the demand for additional programming has outpaced the availability of in-person groups. This NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Community grant will allow WoVeN to meet the increased demand for WoVeN by offering online groups, providing a place for more female veterans to enjoy a sense of community and belonging amongst their peers. Especially in the context of COVID-19, these web-based peer groups will provide vital support to female veterans across the United States, increase their hopefulness, social support, and community engagement; and decrease feelings of distress. This funding will support a national web-based rollout of online groups with streamlined content and improved peer leader tools for regional trainings.
Children’s Military Initiative for Families of the Fallen
Tuesday’s Children’s addresses the needs of military families in all stages of recovery from the loss of a service member with an innovative platform of programs—developed in partnership with recognized leaders in the fields of child development, family advocacy, crisis counseling and mentoring. 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, and supportive adult role model reduces risky behavior and fills an unmet need for children impacted by traumatic loss. This NFL-BWF grant will empower long-term, supportive relationships between children who have lost a military parent or sibling and an effective mentor. This grant will also help Tuesday’s Children staff members shift all mentoring matches to digital contact and pivot to virtual programming, given the impact of COVID-19.
Goodwill Industries of Houston
Veterans Employment Program
A 2019 BWF-funded needs assessment indicated that employment remained the highest unmet need for the veteran community following Hurricane Harvey. The current economic climate has exacerbated this need, as veterans are laid off or unable to pursue careers during COVID-19 conditions. Goodwill Houston serves veterans throughout the greater Houston area who are experiencing unemployment or earning too much to qualify for VA and other federal assistance programs, but too little to be economically self-sufficient. This grant, made possible by a partnership between BWF and the Qatar Harvey Fund, will provide Goodwill Houston’s vocational training to 50 veterans, preparing them for high-need, high-growth careers, which will lead to improved employment options and financial stability. In the context of COVID-19, this program has pivoted to virtual services to ensure that veterans have current resumes and proficient interview skills, in preparation for post-pandemic interview opportunities.
NextOp recruits, trains, and places high-performing middle-enlisted military leaders in careers by partnering with and advocating to Houston industries, and by empowering veterans to advocate for themselves during the hiring process. NextOp is the primary resource for veterans seeking employment through the Combined Arms collaborative in Houston. In the current economic climate, jobs in the oil and gas, and transportation and warehousing industries, both of which employ large numbers of veterans, are especially at risk. NextOp is uniquely positioned through its partnerships with employers and its geographic location in Houston and New Orleans to assist veterans impacted by the downturn in these industries through the rebound of the economy. This NFL-BWF grant to NextOp will ensure that veterans experiencing unemployment will secure new careers and continue to thrive professionally, through these difficult times.