(Boston)--Boston University School of Medicine's (BUSM) Women Veterans Network (WoVeN) has received one of 13 grants (out of 190 initial proposals) from the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF). The funds will be used to meet the increased demand for promoting well-being and mental health and social support by offering online groups, providing a place for more female veterans to enjoy a sense of community and belonging amongst their peers.
Over the past 40 years, the number of women serving in active duty military has grown rapidly, with women currently representing about 15 percent of the armed forces. As the number of female service members continues to expand, there is also a growing need to address the unique needs of women veterans.
"Many female veterans grew personally and professionally during their military service, but also experienced significant challenges re-adapting to civilian life. WoVeN is a peer support network designed to target the unique needs of female veterans," explains Tara Galovski, PhD, director of the Women's Health Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System and WoVeN director.
WoVeN is a nationwide system of peer support groups that connects women veterans from all conflict eras and service branches and provides them with information, education and resources, as well as social connections with other women veterans, to improve their quality of life. "Especially in the context of COVID-19, these web-based peer groups will provide vital support to female veterans across the United States, increase their hopefulness, social support, and community engagement and decrease feelings of distress," adds Galovski, who also is an associate professor of psychiatry at BUSM.
WoVeN is designed to be a home for women veterans regardless of when they return from active military service and to help them form lasting connections with other women veterans both within their individual communities and around the country. It offers an evidence-based, 8-session program led by vetted and trained peer leaders that improves the mental health, social support, and well-being of female veterans.
This spring the Bob Woodruff Foundation awarded $1.9 million in grants to programs that serve veterans, service members and their families. These grants invest in improving veteran and caregiver health and wellness, supporting veteran and military family transition into civilian communities and addressing the acute and critical needs of veterans impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. These grants were made possible thanks to the generous support of their donors and partners, including the Qatar Harvey Fund and the National Football League.
This program is made possible in part by an NFL-BWF Salute to Service partnership "Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Community" grant.