Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Awards Five Grants Totaling More than $2.77M to Programs Supporting Post-9/11 Military Veterans, their Families and Caregivers

University of Michigan, zero8hundred and TAPS will use peer support to assist transitioning soldiers and families; Rosalynn Carter Institute will help caregivers of wounded veterans

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015 11:00 am EST

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NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--To honor Veterans Day and the sacrifices and contributions of America’s military personnel and their families, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation today announced five new grants totaling more than $2.77 million to help military veterans and their families transition back to civilian life and provide assistance to caregivers of wounded veterans.

The grants were awarded through the Foundation’s Mental Health & Well-Being initiative, which supports community-based solutions that address the mental health and community integration needs of U.S. military service personnel returning from active duty, their families and the families of the fallen.

“The needs of our military veterans and their families span a range of issues that include physical and mental health challenges, employment and education needs, social connections, housing and long-term care of veterans wounded in action,” says John Damonti, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “A major component of the programs our partners are developing and implementing involves peer support, which has been shown to be an effective way to connect with and help veterans and their families. We are proud to support our partners in their efforts to minimize the barriers transitioning military veterans and their families face upon leaving the service.”

The University of Michigan received a two-year, $848,870 grant to expand and scale up its replicable Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE) program, which connects student veterans on participating college and university campuses with upper-level student veterans who can help them navigate college life and refer them to appropriate resources when needed. A 2012 grant from the Foundation funded a prototype program that was piloted on 10 campuses; the new version of PAVE that will be developed through the grant will be introduced to an additional 30 campuses at universities across the country.

The platform for the national rollout includes tools for training campus teams, a mobile application that tracks student veterans’ needs and use of the program and web-based access to resources, program materials and outreach strategies for campus teams.

“The largest percentage of separated veterans is now on college campuses, due to the passage of the Post 9-11 GI Bill,” says Jane Spinner, project officer, Strategic Initiatives, University of Michigan Depression Center and Department of Psychiatry. “The transition from the military to academia can be challenging, but we have already seen the impact of PAVE on student veteran health and wellness through a prior grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. The ability of peers to overcome stigma issues around asking for help has been powerful.”

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) received a grant of $326,125 to continue implementing the Military and Veteran Community Network’s (MVCN) Online Caregiver Peer Support Community Program, one of three structured programs introduced as part of a comprehensive nationwide network of support for veteran caregivers. The grant supports MVCN’s platform for hosting peer dialogues among caregivers and the soon-to-be launched online peer support groups.

"The Military and Veteran Caregiver Network is helping to reduce caregiver isolation by giving them a safe and secure place to ‘meet’ to discuss their shared lived experiences and common concerns,” says Lynda Davis, Ph.D., executive director, MVCN and executive vice president, TAPS. “Over the past month alone, almost 1,400 caregiver comments have been shared through the online community."

The grant will allow MVCN to continue implementing the Online Caregiver program so the impact of peer-based support on health outcomes specific to military and veteran caregivers can be evaluated by RAND, also the recipient of a Foundation grant. RAND received $425,000 to conduct a study of MVCN’s peer-engaged caregivers of veterans to assess the program’s impact and how program activities led to those outcomes. The study is expected to demonstrate the positive impact of peer support as a key component of behavioral health service to the military and veteran community.

RAND also received a separate $175,000 grant to map the distribution of evidence for peer support programs for veterans. The project will provide an overview of the focus, quantity and quality of existing research on peer-led interventions related to health promotion and disease prevention and identify different types of peer-support programs based on the formal roles that peers play, including providing social support, mentorship, information and referral and treatment.

Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) received a three-year, $600,000 grant to pilot an all-volunteer workforce version of Operation Family Caregiver, a support program for caregivers of service men and women who have been wounded in action. Volunteers will come from Blue Star Families, a national veteran service organization, and will include former members of the National Guard, the Reserve and active military service or family members of military service members or veterans.

Zero8hundred received a two-year, $397,422 grant to implement the Physical and Mental Health support segment of the Military Transition Support Project, which engages peer counselors and uses an online network to link transitioning military families locating in San Diego, California, to a broad range of resources and opportunities in the community. Physical and Mental Health is one of four pillars of a Veteran’s Wellness Framework. The others are Education and Jobs, Basic Needs and Personal/Social Connections.

About the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

The mission of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is to help reduce health disparities by strengthening community-based health care worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease.

For more information about the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, please visit www.bms.com/foundation or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bmsnews.

Contact:

Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
Frederick J. Egenolf, 609-252-4875
frederick.egenolf@bms.com

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