News coverage around the recent Memorial Day holiday reminded us of the sacrifices veterans have made. Here is just a sampling of what foundations are doing to help them, our military, and their families.
“Through a Welcome Back Veterans Grant, Emory and Atlanta Braves to Launch BraveHeart: Welcome Back Veterans Southeast Initiative on Memorial Day,” Emory University’s Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center press release, May 26. This new initiative is “a screening, assessment and service program designed to provide veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan access to mental health and counseling services.”
Providing help for those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be a big part of the initiative. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD “is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.” Traumatic events that may trigger it include military combat, the agency states.
This initiative to help veterans in the southeastern United States was “created thanks to a $1 million grant” from Welcome Back Veterans, an initiative of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and Major League Baseball Charities, the university said. The grant was awarded to Emory. BraveHeart will use online self-assessment tools for vets and provide continuing education and outreach to primary care physicians throughout the region, including rural areas. (Readers: Please note that the McCormick Foundation does not have a health program. Read more here.)
Barbara Rothbaum, a professor of psychiatry at Emory’s medical school and leading PTSD researcher, directs BraveHeart, which is just one site of the national Welcome Back Veterans initiative, which addresses this disorder. A national public-private partnership, the initiative includes Major League Baseball Charities and the McCormick Foundation, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), U.S. Department of Defense, Entertainment Industry Foundation, and others. The Atlanta Braves Foundation (the baseball team’s nonprofit arm) will help the Georgia-based initiative with fundraising and by hosting vets and their families at games.
Watch a video about BraveHeart: http://bit.ly./braveheartsoutheast, or visit http://www.BraveHeartVeterans.org.
“Nearly 25% of New York State’s veterans returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder,” Jim Knickman and Jacqueline Martinez write. In their May 18 post on the Huffington Post blog, “Serving the Military Families Who Serve New York State,” they suggest how community-based organizations, businesses, government, private foundations, and corporations can help to prepare “communities and families to welcome, embrace, and support the brave men and women who defend this country.” They note that a “shared effort” is needed—by the VA, as well as plenty of others, including health care providers, community health centers, and schools. Knickman is a foundation president and chief executive officer (CEO): he leads the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth). Martinez is a senior program director there. By the way, the statistic they cite on depression and PTSD is from a RAND study, which was funded by NYSHealth and released in January 2011.
Read about NYSHealth’s Initiative for Returning Veterans and Their Families.
“How we rebuild, care for, and honor [veterans] who step into the breach is the most poignant illustration of [America’s] values,” says Gary Yates, president and CEO of the California Wellness Foundation. This quote is from his “Honoring Veterans through Philanthropy,” a periodic President’s Message from the foundation. Yates mentions several charitable groups that help military personnel and their families. He describes the genesis of Fisher Houses, which house family members of hospitalized military personnel and are located around the United States, as well as the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Swords to Plowshares, and United through Reading.
Yates comments that he now cochairs the nonpartisan, national Voices for Philanthropy, “a campaign to tell the positive story of American philanthropy.” Of course, “philanthropy” encompasses giving for a wide variety of causes, he explains. (And he means “giving” in its broader sense—giving of time, talent, or financial resources.)
Yates’s piece originally appeared as an op-ed in the May 29, 2011, edition of the Washington (D.C.) Examiner newspaper. The foundation notes that Yates is a veteran.
Editor’s note: Yates previously announced his plans to retire from the foundation, based in Woodland Hills, California, as of December 31, 2011. The executive search firm of Morris and Berger is conducting a search for his successor. Think you may be qualified for the job? Read the position description here.
Announcement of government contract:
Veteran-Directed Home and Community-Based Services Program. This program aims “to help veterans of all ages and disabilities [to] stay out of nursing homes and live independently at home in their communities,” according to a January 2011 e-alert from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A partnership of the VA, the U.S. Administration on Aging, and Boston College’s (BC’s) National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services, the program allows disabled veterans to have some autonomy in their care. It uses participant-directed services. (I want to clarify that the RWJF has not awarded funding specified for this program to help veterans. However, the National Resource Center receives general operating support from both the RWJF and the Atlantic Philanthropies.)
Under a contract from the VA’s Veterans Health Administration, received in October 2010, the center provides training and technical assistance to staffers at VA medical centers, so that they, in turn, can help vets who enroll in the program.
Enrollees “manage their own flexible spending budgets” for personal care services. These veterans (1) decide for themselves what services they need most; (2) hire and supervise people who can assist them (such assistants can even be family members or friends); and (3) buy products or services “that help them live more independently,” the e-alert explained.
“In addition to the growing aging Veteran population who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, the number of young and severely injured Veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan who need support at home continues to rise,” a BC press release reminds us.
This program for veterans is similar to a now-closed RWJF national grant program called Cash and Counseling, which introduced the alternative of participant-directed services into some state Medicaid programs. The grant program, which ran for ten years, received major funding from the RWJF. (The federal government and the Retirement Research Foundation also provided funding for that program.) The states that were RWJF grantees, however, continue to operate their individual Cash and Counseling programs through Medicaid or state funding.
Related Health Affairs article:
Read the abstract of an article on Cash and Counseling: “New State Strategies to Meet Long-Term Care Needs,” by Pamela Doty and coauthors, Health Affairs, January 2010.
Related resources on veterans and philanthropic efforts to help them:
Blue Shield of California Foundation, which has awarded grants to help military families and families of veterans, under its Blue Shield Against Violence program.
Civilians for Veterans Fund. This group, which former Colorado First Lady Jeannie Ritter helped create, “provides mental health services to armed services members returning from war zones and their families,” according to an article in the Colorado Health Foundation’s Spring 2011 Health Elevations journal. As described in the article, the organization is a collaboration of private funders, [Colorado’s] community mental health centers, and the VA. I read on the Civilians for Veterans website that a donor-advised fund of the Rose Community Foundation, in Denver, “has made a generous donation to begin the program and is committed to seeking additional funding through a variety of sources.” At least initially, the organization seemed especially interested in helping veterans in rural areas of the state. Now, the article notes, it “is expanding its network to nearly all of Colorado,” and “its approach has been adopted as a national model” by the VA.
“Grant Makers Stand Up to Support Military Veterans,” Debra E. Blum, Chronicle of Philanthropy, October 31, 2010. This article, available to subscribers only, notes that “in recent years, a handful of foundations have taken on veterans affairs as a new grant-making priority, and at least a couple of brand-new grant makers have been created that focus on military causes.” Blum continues, “More commonly, though, grant makers that support organizations fighting an array of social problems, like homelessness or domestic violence, are starting to recognize that service members, veterans, and their families are often a critical and distinct part of the populations they serve.”
“Retail Magnate Backs Care for Brain-Injured Veterans,” Philanthropy Today blog, Dec. 27. Read about Project Share, founded by Bernard (“Bernie”) Marcus, “who amassed a fortune” with the Home Depot chain. (He cofounded Home Depot, according to the company’s website.) More information is available in a ProPublica/National Public Radio story in Atlanta Unfiltered.
“Serving Our Veterans: Filling the Gaps in Military Mental Health,” Grantmakers In Health (GIH) Issue Focus, February 11, 2008. This two-pager originally accompanied a GIH audioconference back in November 2007, so some parts of it may be outdated. But there is still some good information here, such as ideas of what foundations can do to help.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. http://www.va.gov/
“VA Infection Issues Lead to 13,000 Veterans’ Tests: Improper Hygiene May Have Exposed Patients to HIV, Hepatitis, or Other Blood-Borne Disease,” Dan Sewell of the Associated Press, on TODAY.com, updated May 29. The Dayton VA Medical Center is among the hospitals mentioned here and is the focus of another AP article, which appeared on NECN.com, “New Head of Dayton VA Center Wants to Improve Care.” (A thank you to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s Kaiser Health News for pointing me to these stories.)