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How a Community in New Orleans is Helping Veterans Transition

Dylan Tête, Executive Director and Founder, Bastion Community of Resilience will receive the George W. Bush Institute Military Service Citation at the Bush Center's Forum on Leadership.

Article by Col. Matthew F. Amidon, USMCR March 26, 2019 //   4 minute read
Photo courtesy of Bastion Community

Isolation and hopelessness can confront many of our warriors and their families as they strive to transition and find their next mission in life. While the majority transition successfully, those who face challenges also face a confusing array of resources, some more effective than others.

But in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans, still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, stands a new community focused on easing the transition from military-to-civilian life. Bastion Community of Resilience exemplifies continued leadership and resilience, and addresses social challenges while enhancing cohesion among residents.

For our warriors and their families, Bastion is the first intentional community focused on their needs. Meaning wounded, ill, or injured veterans and their families can live alongside retired military and civilian volunteers. Its 58 residential units are truly unique where the design itself fosters a culture of care, healing, empowerment, and neighborly virtue.

As an Army veteran and Bastion resident pointed out in their testimonial (name redacted for privacy):

"I love Bastion for three main reasons. Number one, I have a safety net here. When I encounter a setback, I don’t spiral all the way down like I used to, I can stabilize before things get out of control. Number two, I truly feel like I have friends here who understand me, including the staff. And number three, I feel I have a responsibility to other people, my neighbors, whose hearts are into the community as much as mine.”

The community interaction between vets and non-vets is an example of breaking down the civilian-military divide exactly where it occurs. Bastion residents also benefit from the experience of helping others, which in turn promotes wellbeing, trajectory in life, and resilience.

Clustered arrangements of homes each face a common courtyard. This design incubates meaningful and lifelong relationships. But it’s not only how one lives, but what they do while they are there. Neighbors helping neighbors is in the Bastion DNA.

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On site staff and resources, like a centrally located wellness center, provides tailored care for those in need and residents can come together in common purpose and mutual support. Proximity to the recently opened New Orleans Veterans Medical Center and a newly formed partnership with Spero Rehab, a neuro rehabilitation organization, means that residents have effective access to their care needs.

Led by Dylan Tete, Bastion has successfully cultivated relationships with veteran organizations. These private-public relationships, are unique in the veteran space, and have helped Bastion with intake, placement, and referrals to care facilities. These partnerships should be a model for future veteran oriented alliances.

Notably, Bastion has also collected outcome measures on their residents. These insights allow greater visibility into a veteran’s transition, how the community can continue to be useful, and provide avenues for improvement. This data collection is unique in the veteran arena.  

While not every community can be Bastion, all neighbors can make a difference. Intentional design fosters enduring relationships, social support, and the continued leadership. While not easy to implement, the simple act of neighbors being neighbors can provide these tools of support to a transitioning veteran so that we all benefit. 

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