The Bob Woodruff Foundation has awarded Casey Taft, PhD, professor of Psychiatry, a grant for the national expansion of an intervention to prevent and reduce intimate partner violence in veteran populations. Support from the foundation will extend the Strength at Home initiative to four additional Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare settings, beyond those where the program is now running in California.
Strength at Home is the only domestic violence program found effective in a randomized clinical trial in preventing and reducing physical and/or psychological violence in couples. A previous study by Dr. Taft found that one-third of all veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reported recent physical partner violence, while 91 percent reported psychological aggression within the past year – a finding that likely underestimates true incidence.
Strength at Home is unique in addressing the trauma that is often significant for people with a history of violent behavior – an approach that is typically not used by the majority of domestic violence programs. Veterans with trauma, says Dr. Taft, “are more likely to assume the worst in others, respond with hostility, and have difficulty with controlling behaviors because of their prior experiences.” Through Strength at Home, participants learn to communicate more effectively, express feelings underlying anger, and de-escalate difficult situations.
With funding from the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Dr. Taft and two clinicians will train providers and service leaders at four VA healthcare sites in the delivery of Strength at Home, provide follow-up consultation to sites as they implement the program, and evaluate the effectiveness of training and implementation. Following the training, each of the four sites is expected to serve 60 individuals – and, by extent, their partners – annually.
The grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation will accelerate the recommendation by the Department of Veterans Affairs domestic violence task force to implement Strength at Home across the VA system. “We owe it to our veterans and their loved ones to help with the psychological consequences of war,” says Terence Keane, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Behavioral Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD. “We greatly appreciate the commitment by the Bob Woodruff Foundation to preventing this too-frequent reality for veterans following service.”