For the third year, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has made a grant to BUSM for the continued expansion of Strength at Home, a nationwide program to prevent and treat intimate partner violence in veteran populations.
Casey Taft, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, leads Strength at Home, an intervention his team developed in 2008 to address the high rates of trauma-related violence in intimate relationships in which one or both partners have served in the military. Since 2010, after Dr. Taft and colleagues demonstrated the effectiveness of Strength at Home in a randomized clinical trial (the only such trial to validate an intimate partner violence intervention), the US Department of Veterans Affairs has promoted the adoption of the program throughout its 152 medical centers across the country.
“While the VA has championed the roll-out of Strength at Home and has provided instrumental coordination and cooperation throughout the VA,” Dr. Taft says, “it has not been able to allocate the funding needed to implement the program at its sites. The support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation has been critical to bringing this program to our nation’s veterans.”
Since 2016, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has enabled the establishment of Strength at Home in 27 VA medical centers and Strength at Home services for 486 veterans. Foundation grants have enabled Taft and his colleague, Suzannah Creech, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Dell Medical School (UT Austin), to train service providers to lead Strength at Home at their VA medical centers. In addition, the foundation is supporting the expansion of a train-the-trainers program, through which Taft and Creech are teaching regional trainers to instruct local providers in initiating Strength at Home – an approach that will be critical for establishing the program at all VA Medical Centers by 2021 and for future program sustainability, says Dr. Taft.
A key goal of Strength at Home is to help participants learn to communicate more effectively, express feelings underlying anger, and de-escalate difficult situations. The program is unique in addressing the trauma that is often significant for people with a history of violent behavior, and in utilizing an approach that is typically not used by the majority of domestic violence programs.
Program results to date have been promising, says Dr. Creech. “We’re seeing significant reductions in physical and psychological aggression, PTSD symptoms and alcohol misuse. These outcomes indicate that the program has successfully advanced from research to practice and is improving the lives of our veterans and their families.”
Working with Dr. Taft at the VA Boston Healthcare System, Terence Keane, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Behavioral Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD, says “We are delighted and grateful for the ongoing commitment by the Bob Woodruff Foundation to address this manifestation of trauma in our veterans. There are many factors that are essential to a successful re-integration into civilian life,” he adds. “Healthy relationships and families are so important to well being for all of us, and uniquely so for veterans who are transitioning to the next chapter of their lives.”
This program is made possible in part by a grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which is dedicated to ensuring that impacted post-9/11 veterans, service members, and their families are thriving long after they return home.”