The Qatar Harvey Fund established a partnership with the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) in 2018 to support American veterans who continue to be impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Over the course of two years, BWF utilized a $6 million grant from the Qatar Harvey Fund to identify and support organizations providing services to the more than 400,000 post-9/11 veterans and their families in the southeast Texas areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. This partnership supported rebuilding and recovery initiatives as well as work in adjacent service areas that contribute to improved outcomes for this community. Grants were announced over the course of four cycles, details below, with final grants announced in June 2020.
Status: Funds were fully disbursed to the Bob Woodruff Foundation in December 2019.
“The Qatar Harvey Fund represents an investment in the Bob Woodruff Foundation to support veterans and military families to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey.”General Martin Dempsey, 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Bob Woodruff Foundation Board Member
2020 Expedited Grant Cycle Recipients
BWF established a special grant cycle in 2020 to address the significant impact of COVID-19 on veterans and military families. The pandemic is having an outsized effect on the communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey, slowing the recovery for thousands of veterans living in the region. With BWF-QHF funding, this portfolio of programs will help an already strained social services sector as they continue to support veterans back to their normal state before the storm, and weather a new kind of storm that has brought sickness, unemployment, uncertainty, and isolation.
- The Council on Recovery – provide clinical therapy, recovery coaching, and intensive case management for at least 50 veterans and their families
While communities promote social distancing and self-quarantine to slow the spread of the coronavirus, veterans who are already struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues require access to supportive services. The Council on Recovery is experiencing increased demand for family and couples counseling as the stress of recovery from Hurricane Harvey is compounded by the confinement of sheltering at home. This grant will support coaching, intensive case management, and clinical therapy supporting at least 50 veterans and their families, originally impacted by Hurricane Harvey and currently struggling with substance use and co-occurring mental health conditions.
- Tri-County Behavioral Healthcare – strengthen clinical and case management capacity and ensure 125 veteran households remain housed
The services provided by Tri-County Behavioral Healthcare are designed to keep veterans and their family members living in their homes by addressing mental health conditions that if left untreated, would threaten a veteran’s ability to maintain housing. Tri-County Behavioral Healthcare’s services address issues such as anger management, coping abilities, relationship building, anxiety management, and substance abuse; as well as provide case management to access additional resources in the communities in which they live. This grant will strengthen clinical and case management team and ensure 125 veteran households remain housed by addressing behavioral health issues and increasing access to supportive services.
- Easter Seals of Greater Houston – provide support and direct emergency financial relief to 150 veteran households
The crash in the oil/energy sector combined with COVID-19 closures has resulted in over 1 million Texans filing unemployment claims in March that has exacerbated challenges still felt as Houstonians continue to recover from the storm. Easter Seals of Greater Houston immediately jumped into the arena, bolstering their veteran disaster case management staff and moving services to a virtual model. This grant will strengthen Easter Seals of Greater Houston’s mental health and disaster case management capabilities, to provide virtual peer social/support opportunities and to provide direct emergency financial relief to 150 veteran households whose recovery from Hurricane Harvey has slowed in the current situation brought about by COVID-19.
- The Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Coastal Bend – provide support and emergency economic relief for 250 veterans
When economic hardship is compounded with the social isolation mandated to protect the health of all citizens, circumstances create an unfortunate opportunity for unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol and drug misuse. Recognizing this, The Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse – Coastal Bend has developed Project Link to provide virtual and safe program delivery and maintain support necessary to encourage veterans to continue living healthy lifestyles. This grant will support virtual peer-to-peer support groups, emergency economic relief, virtual financial education, and virtual anger management classes for 250 veterans living in communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
- Combined Arms – support COVID-19 response and rural community expansion to connect 10,000 veteran households to social service networks
Building off the momentum of a previous BWF-QHF grant to support the Community Leaders program, which connects local veterans with resources to address their needs, Combined Arms has assisted all of their member organizations transitioning to virtual services and has actively built partnerships across the region to serve a larger area of the Harvey impacted Texas Gulf Coast. With this grant, Combined Arms will increase their program by an additional 420 leaders across the Harvey-affected region of the Texas Gulf Coast, and scale their social service and community manager capacity to coordinate a total of 750 community leaders across the region to connect 10,000 veteran households to a social service network standing by to assist them in their recovery after Harvey and during this new period of hardship.
- Houston Food Bank – establish a food pantry at the Combined Arms veteran center and serve at least 1,000 veteran households
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the daily lives of all Americans, the Houston Food Bank and their partners identified increased needs in the veteran community and the barriers veterans face due to lack of transportation and economic resources, as well as health and housing issues. Working with their partners at Combined Arms, Houston Food Bank built a plan to ensure they can meet the needs experienced by veteran households across the region. With this grant, Houston Food Bank will build a pantry at the Combined Arms veteran center and also embed a coordinator aiding veterans applying for state-funded social and health services. This capability will provide greater access to food and serve at least 1,000 veteran households across the region.
- University Foundation Vets4Warriors – connect 400 veteran households to Vets4Warriors peer support specialists
As the country remains sheltered in place, Vets4Warriors’ peer-support services are in high demand. Since January, the new caller rate has increased by 17.8 percent and can be attributed, in part, to prior QHF-BWF support for specific outreach in the Texas Gulf Coast and to partnerships created through BWF shaping. With this grant, Vets4Warriors will grow their partnership with Combined Arms and enhance their ability to serve veterans by connecting incoming off-hours and weekend calls to Combined Arms directly to Vets4Warriors. This capability will connect 400 veteran households to Vets4Warriors peer-support specialists building resilience and improving quality of life and overall well-being for veterans, family members, and caregivers in the Texas Gulf Coast affected by Hurricane Harvey.
- Lone Star Legal Aid – assist 140 veterans in communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey with legal barriers to well-being
Across the Texas Gulf Coast, low-income veterans living in communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey have seen their circumstances worsened significantly by the pandemic. These veterans and their family members face issues related to unemployment, food insecurity, public benefits eligibility, inability to pay rent and mortgages, rising domestic violence, nursing home discharges, and the risk of homelessness. These challenges are compounded by mounting debt and the possibility of bankruptcy if they are unable to secure effective legal representation. Collectively, these issues have created new and unanticipated legal problems for large numbers of low-income Texas veterans and their family members. Building on the success of the Spring 2019 BWF/QHF grant to Lone Star Legal Aid, this grant will connect with and help an additional 140 veteran households navigate legal barriers to well-being across the Texas Gulf Coast.
- Endeavors – provide emergency financial support for at least 150 veteran households recovering from Hurricane Harvey
The communities along the Texas Gulf Coast recovering from Hurricane Harvey are now experiencing compounded hardship stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many veterans across the region have lost their jobs and families are struggling to afford utilities, car payments, lodging, insurance, and food. Endeavors’ Disaster Case Management program provides client-focused services for short-term relief and long-term recovery for disaster victims continuing to recover from Hurricane Harvey in Texas. With the support of this grant, Endeavors will provide emergency financial support for at least 150 veteran households recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
- Corporate America Supports You – provide 300 veterans and veteran spouses with essential and professional industry skills and certifications
For many, stable employment was the key to recovery after Hurricane Harvey, and with the current downturn in the economy, many veterans and their families risk losing that economic foundation for recovery from Hurricane Harvey. Corporate America Supports You rapidly developed the Essential and Professional Industry Skills Course platform, or SkillsBuild in early 2020 and hired a Community Coordinator in Texas to serve Harris County. With a BWF-QHF grant, CASY will provide 300 veterans and veteran spouses with essential and professional industry skills and certifications to be competitive in the changing economy. These skills will help veterans identify a career path and obtain certifications in technology, service, and administration sectors that are in high demand in Harris County.
Spring 2020 Grant Cycle Recipients
- Family Houston: Returning Home – support at least 120 veterans with resources necessary to establish and maintain stable housing
Veterans who had experienced homelessness preceding Hurricane Harvey have struggled to maintain their housing following the storm and the most recent impact of COVID-19. This grant to Family Houston expands operations to provide veterans impacted by Hurricane Harvey with material and financial assistance to maintain housing and utilities.
- Goodwill Industries of Houston: Veterans Employment Program – provide vocational training for up to 50 veterans
Employment remained the highest unmet need for the veteran community following Hurricane Harvey. The current economic climate has exacerbated this need, as veterans are laid off or unable to pursue careers during COVID-19 conditions. Goodwill Houston serves veterans throughout the greater Houston area who are experiencing unemployment or earning too much to qualify for VA and other federal assistance programs, but too little to be economically self-sufficient. This grant will provide Goodwill Houston’s vocational training to 50 veterans impacted by Hurricane Harvey, preparing them for high-need, high-growth careers, which will lead to improved employment options and financial stability.
- South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience (STRONG STAR) – train 65 veteran-serving mental health providers in CBT-I&N, improving service delivery in the Texas Gulf Coast area
Building on the Fall 2019 grants to STRONG STAR, an additional grant has been made for Spring 2020 to the consortium, housed at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. This grant will provide training for 65 mental health care providers operating in the Texas Gulf Coast in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia and Nightmares (CBT-I&N). Sleep problems are very often present simultaneously with posttraumatic stress disorder and can be a gateway to resolving PTSD symptoms. These trainings will expand and improve veteran treatment options in an area still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
Fall 2019 Grant Recipients
Two separate grants have been made to South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience (STRONG STAR) research consortium focused on PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) evaluation and treatment at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. These grants are complementary efforts to address the under-availability of quality, evidence-based mental healthcare for veterans in the Texas Gulf Coast.
- Fund trainings for at least 90 clinicians in counties impacted by Hurricane Harvey and help those organizations create long-term plans for sustained use of evidence-based therapy. The STRONG STAR team will subsequently provide expert consultation to these mental health care providers as they treat at least three veterans each (from or currently residing in the counties impacted by Hurricane Harvey) between February 2020 – November 2020. This grant will serve 270 veterans during the grant period and will also create an enduring capability to treat many more.
- Provide immediate care for up to 40 veterans in the region impacted by Hurricane Harvey who are suffering most acutely from PTSD. Some veterans in the Texas gulf coast region struggle with severe PTSD, exacerbated by the stresses of Hurricane Harvey, and cannot wait for the local mental health care capability to improve. This grant will identify up to 40 veterans in need of immediate expert clinical care and transport them to San Antonio for the best-in-class STRONG STAR 3-week program designed to address the most severely traumatized PTSD patients who have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Because participating in training can be cost-prohibitive for clinicians, QHF/BWF stipends will ensure that the 90 participating clinicians can afford to receive that training and that they use their expertise to treat veterans in the counties impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Stipends will support each of the 90 clinicians treating 3 veterans and will enable them to participate in the annual Combat PTSD conference in San Antonio, to supplement their training and develop a network of mental health care providers
The remaining five grants provide important supplementary capabilities and outcomes to support Harvey-impacted veterans in the Gulf Coast region:
- Easter Seals of Greater Houston, Inc. – provide mental health and financial counseling for 100 veterans or family member. Easter Seals is a national non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, other special needs, and disabled veterans. Easter Seals of Greater Houston was one of the biggest providers helping families recover from the impact and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and has since been working to address unmet mental health and financial literacy needs in the veteran community. Easter Seals is addressing the pressing need for mental health services and financial literacy by providing individual and group mental health counseling, peer to peer support, and financial coaching. This funding will enable mental health counseling to decrease veterans’ depression and anxiety and improve participants’ quality of life. This grant will also fund financial counseling to help veterans reduce their debt, increase their assets, and create and use a household budget. Easter Seals of Greater Houston has outreach offices in four counties on the Texas Gulf Coast and will serve 100 post-9/11 families impacted by Hurricane Harvey with this grant.
- Vets4Warriors – provide peer support for 250 veterans, family members, and caregivers located in the Texas Gulf Coast. Housed at the Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care National Call Center in New Jersey, Vets4Warriors is a national 24/7 peer support network that provides live one-on-one assistance to veteran and military communities. Every call, text, and email from a veteran is answered by Vets4Warriors peers who are all veterans, military family members and caregivers. With this grant, Vets4Warriors will target their outreach to the Texas Gulf Coast region to reach veterans affected by Hurricane Harvey who need upstream support and peer connection so that the challenges they are facing are mitigated before they reach the point of crisis. Vets4Warriors is especially focused on the more rural areas, where support is less available. Vets4Warriors will locate and serve 250 veterans, family members, and caregivers located in the Texas Gulf Coast during this grant period.
- Operation Family Caregiver-Gulf Coast Region, Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) – provide training and support to at least 100 families throughout the Texas Gulf Coast. RCI operates Operation Family Caregiver (OFC), a personalized program where highly trained OFC experts train and “coach” each family with the skills to navigate their challenges, resulting in stronger and healthier families. The spouses and family members who provide care at home for wounded veterans have an increased likelihood of depression and other negative health outcomes; low productivity and problems at work; relationship distress; and increased financial difficulty. The OFC coaches help families of veterans to manage their caregiving difficulties, via video or in-person meetings for a 16- to 24-week period. This grant will enable RCI to expand the Operation Family Caregiver program to the Gulf Coast of Texas. Hurricane Harvey and resulting tropical storms affected more than 510,000 veterans, and the devastation caused in this region by the hurricane exacerbated the daily difficulties caregivers face. This grant will provide vital caregiving coaching through the Operation Family Caregiver Program to at least 100 families. Because of the prevalence of Spanish-speaking caregivers in the Texas Gulf Coast, this grant will also translate the OFC curriculum into Spanish.
- The Mission Continues – operate a week of veterans’ service projects in communities affected by Hurricane Harvey, involving 500 Houston and Gulf Coast veterans. TMC conducts annual large-scale veteran empowerment and community improvement operations, empowering veterans and addressing their need to serve while supporting communities in need. In November 2020, TMC will convene local veterans from the Houston and Gulf Coast region for five days of large-scale service projects in communities heavily impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
- Combined Arms – identify, train, and equip 100 leaders across the Gulf Coast region to identify and connect with local Harvey-impacted veterans. Combined Arms unites the community of service providers to improve and accelerate services to Houston veterans. To date, however, veterans in the Houston metropolitan area have had the easiest access to the 395 programs provided by 56 member organizations within the Combined Arms collaborative. This grant will take that access directly to Harvey-impacted veterans in the rural Texas Gulf Coast region where Combined Arms will identify, train, and equip 100 leaders across the region to identify and connect with local Harvey-impacted veterans, identify their enduring needs, and connect them with the resources to address those needs. Each leader will connect to, and resolve the challenges of at least five veterans, resulting in a minimum of 500 veterans, and potentially many more, served by this significant outreach effort.
Spring 2019 Grant Recipients
- Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) – provide legal support to 250 veteran clients with a total of 400 legal issues
LSLA provides legal support to veterans and have supported veterans in 25 of the 41 federally declared Harvey disaster counties in Texas. This grant expanded LSLA’s outreach to veterans in underserved communities, particularly along the rural gulf coast, and concluded in Q2 2020 after assisting 184 applicants with 241 legal matters.
- The St. Bernard Project (SBP) – ensure 10 veterans requiring home repair/rebuild services have access to resources and support
SBP is a nationally-recognized disaster resilience and recovery organization that has been working in storm-impacted communities since Hurricane Katrina. This grant concluded in Q1 2020 with 10 veteran homes repaired/rebuilt and funding for an additional five homes allocated.
“This new partnership allows us to support veterans and their families impacted by Hurricane Harvey via those best-in-class service providers who bring measurable outcomes and local activation.”Anne Marie Dougherty, Executive Director, Bob Woodruff Foundation