Veteran Coffee Socials: A Community-Building Strategy for Enhancing Community Reintegration of Veterans

Abstract

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.

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Fig. 1

Change history

  • 03 July 2018

    The original version of this article unfortunately contained a mistake in co-author name and his affiliation. The author name should be Anthony Russo instead it was published as Antony Russo and his affiliation has been corrected.

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Correspondence to Jay A. Gorman.

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Gorman, J.A., Scoglio, A.A.J., Smolinsky, J. et al. Veteran Coffee Socials: A Community-Building Strategy for Enhancing Community Reintegration of Veterans. Community Ment Health J 54, 1189–1197 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-018-0288-y

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Keywords

  • Community reintegration
  • Veterans
  • Community-based interventions
  • Social support
  • Coffee Social
  • Peer