Trauma-Informed Care for Organizations Serving Homeless Female Veterans
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.
Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers (PDF)
This guide provides information on the experiences and needs of female veterans, what it means to provide trauma-informed care to this population, and resources for staff training and education, including the Organizational Self-Assessment for Providers Serving Female Veterans. The self-assessment consists of concrete trauma-informed practices that can be integrated into daily programming within organizations serving female veterans who are homeless.
Also included are resources on female veterans, general trauma information, homelessness and trauma, cultural competence, trauma-informed services, consumer involvement, and self-care for service providers.
This brief provides an introduction to trauma-informed care and identifies reasons why trauma-informed care is a best practice for serving veterans experiencing homelessness. Based on lessons learned from the project, it also outlines a multi-phased model for adopting trauma-informed care as an organization-wide approach to service design and delivery.
Investing in training, supervision, and ongoing support builds organizational culture and capacity to understand and respond to veterans in ways that support recovery and minimize potential for doing additional harm. This brief outlines key strategies for building staff capacity to provide trauma-informed care.
Understanding the unique experiences and needs of women veterans is critical to providing quality care. This brief explores the prevalence of trauma in the lives of women veterans, the intersection between trauma and homelessness, and special considerations for providing trauma-informed care for this population.
In 2014, the National Center on Family Homelessness at AIR presented a webinar series that addressed the impact of trauma on veterans and highlighted trauma-informed care as an organization-wide approach to understanding and responding to trauma. Special focus was given to the experiences of women veterans and how to provide trauma-informed care to this population. View the recordings >>