The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) announces first-quarter grants to help injured service members, veterans, family members and caregivers on the homefront. The grants will be distributed to six national and community-based nonprofits offering innovative solutions to deeply entrenched problems that can prevent post-9/11 injured service members from thriving once they return to civilian life. The grantees are located in all 50 states, with four nationally based programs. BWF grants are given to organizations and programs in BWF’s three primary focus areas: Rehabilitation and Recovery, Education and Employment and Quality of Life. To date, the foundation supports more than 90 grantees, reaching more than 1 million service members, veterans, families and support personnel, and has invested more than $20 million in finding, funding and shaping solutions.
Grants range from investing in peer support on colleges and technical school campuses, to supporting careers in farming and agriculture on a national and local level, to addressing the difficult issues of fertility, intimacy and the urogenital wounds sustained in battle.
Program grants include:
Rehabilitation and Recovery
American Academy of Nursing—“Have You Ever Served in the Military?”
The American Academy of Nursing is comprised of more than 2,000 top nursing leaders from all 50 states within the education, management, research and practice sectors. Together with the State of Commissioners of Veteran Affairs, the Academy is bringing about fundamental change to the health care system by directly improving the health of veterans and their families through the initiative “Have You Ever Served in the Military?”. Enlisting nurses on the ground who are treating veterans in civilian medical facilities, the initiative will improve the manner in which health care providers conduct health assessments and physicals for veterans, raising awareness and helping to diagnose potential health risks associated with military service. With support from the Bob Woodruff Foundation, this program will expand to all 50 states this year, identifying at least 1 million veterans with the potential to reach up to 4 million. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to equip health care providers across the United States with the tools to identify the veterans among their patient populations and connect them to needed treatment and community resources.
Dryhootch of America, Dryhootch FOB & iPeer Expansion Program
Dryhootch is a community-based nonprofit organization established by veterans for veterans. Their focus is to provide a safe, drug-and alcohol-free environment for returning veterans, their families and their extended network, encouraging interaction with the community as a whole. With the help of BWF, Dryhootch will hire a regional manager to evaluate the impact of peer-mentoring programs on veterans’ mental health, acting as a conduit in the communities for the VA Healthcare systems. Dryhootch will also look to expand its iPeer program, a social-and technology-based support program, improving access to peer support through app-based smartphone interactions. Dryhootch will begin testing this model in urban Chicago and will expand to regional centers in New York and Los Angeles.
Project Healing Waters, Veteran Fly-Fishing & Regional Coordinator Conference
In contrast to the traumatic experiences of warfare, fly-fishing embraces the therapeutic value of the great outdoors and provides opportunities for peer-to-peer support between veterans who have survived traumatic combat experiences. Once veterans return home to their communities away from hospital stays and rehabilitation sessions, Project Healing Waters Fly-Fishing (PHWFF) helps provide the veteran a lifelong skill that promotes re-socialization, camaraderie, and an avenue to heal one’s physical and hidden wounds. Participants develop fishing techniques while bonding with instructors and their peers. The Bob Woodruff Foundation’s investment will provide essential funds for fly-fishing trips and will support a conference known as the “Regional Rendezvous,” where volunteer coordinators will receive needed training, share best practices and learn ways to handle compassion fatigue.
SemperMax, AASECT Certified Supervision of Walter Reed SHI Staff
Sexual health and intimacy is a rehabilitation and quality-of-life issue that not only affects the injured, but also their loved ones. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Sexual Health and Intimacy (SHI) workgroup is a multi-disciplinary team of health care provides who strive to help the wounded regain sexual health and emotional intimacy after injury. To date, there is no other organization providing services that address sexual health and intimacy needs for this population. Hoping to serve approximately 500 individuals immediately and thousands thereafter, this grant will fund the required supervision of 12 medical professionals over the course of a year, helping them to obtain their AASECT certifications as a sexuality therapist, counselor or educator.
Semper Max, Sexual Health and Intimacy Manual, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Written by occupational therapists who treat wounded service members at Walter Reed, the manual is designed to educate service members, veterans, families, significant others and clinicians about achieving and maintaining healthy sexual intimacy post-injury.
Education and Employment
Farmer Veteran Coalition, Joining the Ranks of America’s Farmers: Farm Career Support for Post 9/11 Wounded Warriors
Since 2009, with farmers dispersed throughout the U.S., the Farmer Veteran Coalition has introduced the world of farming to nearly 700 military veterans and family members. Through the fellowship fund, small grants are awarded to veterans on a competitive, bi-annual basis. The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund is designed to support veterans beginning a career in farming and assist the veteran farmer with business expansion through the purchase of equipment, assistance with certifications, building materials and labor, and agriculture-focused education or training programs. These grants have not only helped returning veterans start their farm businesses, but have also infused new energy into peer support in rural communities where families are long separated by multiple deployments. Along with the grant, each candidate is matched with a farm and/or finance mentor. Both strengthen the veteran’s farm business, but also assist with the transition process. BWF will fund 15 Bob Woodruff Foundation Farming Fellowships. Farming has proven to be a mechanism of healing for returning veterans, their families, and the communities that support them. Previous Bob Woodruff Foundation grants to the Farmer Veteran Coalition include past fellowships and retreats that introduced novice farmers to agriculture and farming practices that have made a lasting impact to their quality of life.
Quality of Life
Growing Veterans, Growing Veterans Outpost
Growing Veterans’ mission is to foster an environment where veterans are empowered to be responsible stewards, leaders and active participants in their community. In Washington State, Growing Veterans provides a place where veterans and civilians unite in support of a positive and worthy cause, allowing them to experience informal peer-support and to use skills gained in the military or school to support the broader community. “Dirt Therapy” is a rehabilitation term Growing Veterans uses to describe what happens when veterans work together at the farm, whether it’s using their time gardening to discuss war experiences, claims issues, mental health struggles, etc., all in a supportive and open environment. With the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s grant, Growing Veterans can further develop and establish its local model with trained veteran peer support specialists and a farm director, ultimately replicating best practices (and “dirt therapy”) in areas densely populated with post-9/11 veterans across the state of Washington.