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Veteran coffee socials: A community-building strategy for enhancing community reintegration of veterans

APA Citation:

Gorman, J. A., Scoglio, A. A. J., Smolinsky, J., Russo, A., & Drebing, C. E. (2018). Veteran Coffee Socials: A community-building strategy for enhancing community reintegration of veterans. Community Mental Health Journal, 54(8), 1189–1197. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-018-0288-y

Abstract Created by REACH:

Community reintegration may be a particularly challenging transition in a service member or veteran’s life, characterized by issues with finding and maintaining social relationships. Veteran Coffee Social events are an informal social intervention with the aim of gathering veterans together to talk over coffee. Using a case study approach, this study reviews the qualitative data from seven weekly Veteran Coffee Social groups with a total of 2,236 veteran engagements (i.e., total number of veterans engaging in events, not counting repeat attendees) over nine months. Participation in Veteran Coffee Socials was associated with numerous benefits, including increased social support and facilitating access to services.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:



Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)
Aged (65 yrs & older)


Qualitative Study
Case Study


Gorman, Jay A., Scoglio, Arielle A. J., Smolinsky, John, Russo, Antony, Drebing, Charles E.


Veterans transitioning from military to civilian life are vulnerable to a loss of social support and an increase in isolation from their communities, which can exacerbate other difficulties they may be experiencing, such as physical or mental health problems. Veteran Coffee Socials are an innovative community-building pilot intervention designed to foster social support and community between veterans. In seven target communities, certified peer specialists initiated and facilitated weekly “Veteran Coffee Socials”—open peer support groups for veterans, held in local coffee shop or restaurants. Over a 9-month period, an average of 8.5 veterans attended each meeting, for a total of 2236 veteran engagements across seven towns. A range of activities were identified as commonly occurring during these Veteran Coffee Socials. Veteran attendees routinely formed relationships with each other, representatives from community organizations, and staff from local and VA healthcare resources. One of the most common activities involved veterans receiving information and directions for enrollment into needed healthcare supports and to local community resources. Case descriptions are provided illustrate the potential positive impact of this intervention to build community and expand social support for returning veterans through the examination of three individual and three group examples.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Social & Community Reintegration Research Program, ENRM
VA Medical Center, JAG Social & Community Reintegration Research Program, ENRM
VA Medical Center, AAJS
Department of Psychology, Suffolk University, JS
Department of Psychology, Suffolk University, AR
Social & Community Reintegration Research Program, ENRM
VA Medical Center, CED


veterans, social support, community reintegration, coffee social, community-based interventions, peer

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  August 2019

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