Veteran Coffee Socials: A Community-Building Strategy for Enhancing Community Reintegration of Veterans
Veterans transitioning from military to civilian life are vulnerable to a loss of social support and an increase in isolation from their communities, which can exacerbate other difficulties they may be experiencing, such as physical or mental health problems. Veteran Coffee Socials are an innovative community-building pilot intervention designed to foster social support and community between veterans. In seven target communities, certified peer specialists initiated and facilitated weekly “Veteran Coffee Socials”—open peer support groups for veterans, held in local coffee shop or restaurants. Over a 9-month period, an average of 8.5 veterans attended each meeting, for a total of 2236 veteran engagements across seven towns. A range of activities were identified as commonly occurring during these Veteran Coffee Socials. Veteran attendees routinely formed relationships with each other, representatives from community organizations, and staff from local and VA healthcare resources. One of the most common activities involved veterans receiving information and directions for enrollment into needed healthcare supports and to local community resources. Case descriptions are provided illustrate the potential positive impact of this intervention to build community and expand social support for returning veterans through the examination of three individual and three group examples.
KeywordsCommunity reintegration Veterans Community-based interventions Social support Coffee Social Peer
- Chaskin, R. J. (Ed.), (2001). Building community capacity (p. 12). New Jersey: Transaction PublishersGoogle Scholar
- Constantine, S. (2013, July 8). Retrieved, from http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/07/local_american_legion_posts_re.html.
- Davidson, L., Chinman, M., Kloos, B., Weingarten, R., Stayner, D., & Tebes, J. K. (1999). Peer support among individuals with severe mental illness: A review of the evidence. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 6(2), 165–187.Google Scholar
- Glynn, S. M., Drebing, C., & Penk, W. (2009). Psychosocial rehabilitation. Chapter 16. In Effective treatments for PTSD: Practice guidelines from the international society for traumatic stress studies (2nd ed., pp. 388–423). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Koenig, C. J., Maguen, S., Monroy, J. D., Mayott, L., & Seal, K. H. (2014). Facilitating culture-centered communication between health care providers and veterans transitioning from military deployment to civilian life. Patient Education and Counseling, 95(3), 414–420. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2014.03.016.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Matarazzo, B. B., Signoracci, G. M., Brenner, L. A., & Olson-Madden, J. H. (2016). Barriers and facilitators in providing community mental health care to returning veterans with a history of traumatic brain injury and co-occurring mental health symptoms. Community Mental Health Journal, 52(2), 158–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- McGarity, S., Barnett, S. D., Lamberty, G., Kretzmer, T., Powell-Cope, G., Patel, N., & Nakase-Richardson, R. (2016). Community reintegration problems among veterans and active duty service members with traumatic brain injury. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 32, 34–35Google Scholar
- Montgomery, R. (2014, August 25). VFW battles to reverse a decline in membership. Retrieved May 30, 2017 from, http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article1283131.html.
- Mowatt, R. A., & Bennett, J. (2011). War narratives: Veteran stories, PTSD effects, and therapeutic fly-fishing. Therapeutic recreation journal, 45(4), 286.Google Scholar
- Orazem, R. J., Frazier, P. A., Schnurr, P. P., Oleson, H. E., Carlson, K. F., Litz, B. T., & Sayer, N. A. (2016). Identity adjustment among Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans with reintegration difficulty. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0000225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Putnam, R. D. (1995). Tuning in, tuning out: The strange disappearance of social capital in America. PS: Political Science & Politics, 28(4), 664–683.Google Scholar
- Resnick, L., Bradford, D. W., Jette, A. M., Glynn, S. M., Jette, A. M., & Hernandez, C. J. (2012). Issues in defining and measuring veteran community reintegration: proceedings of the Working Group on Community Reintegration, VA Rehabilitation Outcomes Conference, Miami, Florida. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 49(1), 87–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Sayer, N. A., Frazier, P., Orazem, R. J., Murdoch, M., Gravely, A., Carlson, K. F., … Noorbaloochi, S. (2011). Military to civilian questionnaire: A measure of postdeployment community reintegration difficulty among veterans using Department of Veterans Affairs medical care. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(6), 660–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar