Veterans Coffee Socials - Fostering Community Connections - Mental Health
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Veterans Coffee Socials - Fostering Community Connections

two women sitting having coffee

Veterans Coffee Socials

Building social support systems with Veterans in the community is an important part of ensuring Veterans’ overall health. Veterans Coffee Socials enhance communication and foster bonds among Veterans and others in the community. They are a place to meet friends, find resources, and have fun with other Veterans and community members. These Socials come in many forms, and we encourage hosts to shape them based on attendees’ needs and preferences.

You Can Start a Social Group for Veterans

Over time, proper social support can improve physical and mental health. To foster healthy social interaction and avoid isolation among Veterans, VA has developed a guide to setting up Veterans’ social groups for use by Veterans, community leaders, and others. Watch this video to learn more about the quick start guide and to start your own Veterans Coffee Social.

Resources

Quick Start Guide for Veterans Coffee Socials

Download this quick start guide if you’re interested in setting up and hosting a Social near you. The guide explains how to start a group, how to reach Veterans in your area, and how to ensure that your Social is successful in fostering connections among Veterans and others in their community.

Optional Downloadable Assets
  • Social Planning Worksheet
    This worksheet will help you determine a location for your Social, identify supportive members of the community, and brainstorm ways to overcome potential barriers.
  • Social Flyer Template
    Download this template to create a flyer for your Social, and look at this example flyer for inspiration. You can customize the flyer to fit your gathering and post flyers where Veterans in your area may see them, like at a local Veterans organization.
  • Social Icons
    Download these icons so you can add them to your Social’s materials and use them on social media.
  • National Resources Form
    This document lists national resources for Veterans on benefits, employment services, mental health services, housing assistance, and more. Download this form to share with interested Veterans at each Social.
  • Key Contacts Template
    Use this template to list local resources for Veterans, such as social opportunities and contact information for Veterans organizations and community services. Hosts and other Social leaders should fill in the template but may seek input from Veterans in the area.
  • Fidelity Checklist
    Socials are not one-size-fits-all and can be adapted for different locations and situations. As your Social evolves, use this checklist to keep track of the basic requirements of all Socials.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can host a Social?

Socials can be hosted by a Veteran or a VA Veteran peer specialist. Community allies can serve as co-hosts.

Who can attend a Social?

Socials are intended to provide a place for Veterans, their family members, and their friends to socialize and strengthen community connections. Veterans will likely make up the core of most Socials. However, forming connections between Veterans and non-Veterans may be an important part of improving community cohesion.

Is hosting a Social the only way to get involved?

Community members can be involved in all kinds of ways — whether as a host, attendee, guest speaker, or resource contributor. Hosting may not be for everyone, but there is a place at Socials for all Veterans and allies.

How do I learn more about starting and hosting a Social?

Starting and hosting a Social requires no formal training. Simply consult the Veterans Coffee Social Quick Start Guide. In addition, you can receive VA consultation by emailing VHABedCoffeeSocials@va.gov.

Where can I find useful information for attendees in my Social?

Each host should find resources (e.g., businesses offering Veteran discounts, health care facilities) specific to their location. To compile resources, start by visiting or contacting your town or city hall. Download the National Resources Form with links to federal resources.

Is there funding available for Socials?

Socials do not need funding to operate. However, nonprofits, businesses, and other sources in the community may choose to provide funding (e.g., for snacks and beverages), which can improve the experience for attendees.

How do I get the word out about my Social?

We recommend creating a flyer (or use the example flyer we provide) to post in the community where Veterans reside or visit, to share on social media, and to distribute to local organizations.

What do I do if an attendee is being disruptive during the Social?

Reports of disruptive behavior in Socials are rare. If conversation at a Social becomes heated or inappropriate, the host should suggest a change of topic and remind attendees to address one another respectfully. Appropriate behavior — and clearly articulated expectations for behavior — is key in creating a welcoming and accepting environment for all attendees.

What if I don’t want to host my Social anymore?

Hosting a Social is a volunteer act. If you feel unable to continue hosting the Social, it may be time to add a co-host or to transition hosting duties to a regular attendee who has proved dedicated and capable. Whether adding a co-host or transitioning out of hosting, be sure to make a transition plan and communicate the plan to all attendees, even infrequent ones.

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