Research shows that traumatic experiences prior to and during military service can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of women veterans, increasing their risk for homelessness. Traumatic experiences can also affect ability to maintain health and sustain employment. With advances in awareness of the prevalence and impact of trauma in the lives of women veterans, trauma-informed care is now seen as a best practice to support recovery.
Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness, funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation from 2012 to 2014 as part of its Mental Health and Well-Being Initiative for returning veterans and families, was a multi-site demonstration project designed to build the capacity of veteran-serving agencies—particularly those serving women veterans—to adopt a universal, organization-wide approach to understanding and responding to trauma. The National Center on Family Homelessness at AIR partnered with three organizations serving homeless veterans in Massachusetts—the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, Veterans Inc., and Soldier On—that were interested in adopting trauma-informed care. Project activities included
- introducing an organizational framework for becoming trauma-informed;
- building the capacity of organizations to integrate trauma-informed care; and
- evaluating project impact on organizational culture and practice.
Project findings suggest that adopting trauma-informed care enhances quality of care for veterans in homelessness services and is a promising framework for veteran service systems.