Community Education

Swords to Plowshares’ Combat to Community® training is a series of accredited cultural competency curricula developed by our Institute for Veteran Policy team and provided to over 10,000 professionals nationwide, including law enforcement, first responders, mental health and social service professionals, educators and employers.

Through discussion, screening tools, and application exercises, the course teaches:

  • Commonly shared attitudes, values, and practices which characterize service in the military
  • How combat and military experience, service-related injuries and disability can impact veterans
  • How military or veteran status can inform outreach, engagement, treatment approach, and services available.

Combat to Community is proven to increase knowledge and understanding of military and veteran culture, as well as demonstrate new skills to identify, engage and inform treatment approach with veterans and families.

Our training incorporates knowledge developed by experts in the fields of veteran culture and direct services with practical tools and resources to increase your understanding and improve interactions with veterans.

For further information about our Combat to Community training, email us at [email protected] or call (415) 655-7253.

The training is adapted to the specific needs of community professionals:

Recruiters, Hiring Managers, and HR Specialists

  • Learn practical ways to recruit, hire, and support veteran employees.
  • Translate military service skill sets to the civilian workplace.
  • Create a veteran-friendly workplace through supportive programs.
  • Learn solutions to remove obstacles for improved recruitment and retention.

* Employment and Human Resources training is certified for GPHR, HRBP, HRMP, PHR, and SPHR by the HR Certification Institute.

Law Enforcement and Crisis Intervention

  • Recognize how learned behaviors from the military, such as hyper-vigilance and rapid response to threatening encounters, as well as the effects of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury can impact interactions with first responders.
  • Identify veterans and learn effective techniques to engage them during crisis situations.
  • Learn how to de-escalate crisis encounters with veterans through application exercises.
  • Learn how to work with and refer veterans to local community resources.

* Certified through the California Commission of Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) and rated Plan IV.

Behavioral Health and Social Services

  • Understand military service-connected injuries and impact on treatment.
  • Incorporate screening tools to appropriately identify, treat and refer veterans and families.
  • Discuss unique treatment considerations when working with veteran patients.
  • Learn how to refer veterans and families to appropriate resources.

* Accredited by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences to offer continuing education credits for MFT, LPCC, LEP, CATC, LCSW, and CAADE professionals licensed in California.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is this unique?

Swords to Plowshares is nationally recognized for its expertise in providing services and promoting and protecting the rights of veterans. Our curricula combine knowledge developed by experts in the fields of veteran culture and services with practical tools and resources to increase your understanding and improve your interactions with veterans. Trainings are delivered by veterans who have worked for years in veteran services and advocacy.

We work closely with experts in social services, housing policy, mental and physical health, legal and employment professions to develop trainings that specifically address the needs and challenges of veterans in these specific contexts.

Do you offer more in-depth trainings, or trainings on certain topics?

Trainings are customized based on the needs of the participants to cover a wide range of topics and level of detail. Examples of trainings we’ve developed include (but are not limited to):

  • Effective outreach models for veteran service programs
  • Creating supportive programs for veterans in the workplace and on college campuses
  • Underrepresented veterans: women, LGBTQ+, minorities, older veterans, homeless veterans, veterans with less than honorable discharges (“bad paper”), etc.
  • How traumatic brain injury may present among veterans engaging in social services
  • Family stress and domestic violence
  • Criminal justice involvement
  • Military sexual trauma

How long is the training?

Trainings range from one hour to full day workshops depending on subject and the needs of our training participants. IVP staff can work with you to customize training that meets your scheduling needs.

How is the training presented? Does it have to be in-person?

Trainings include an interactive lecture, video presentations, screening tools, and workshop exercises. Components can be delivered in person or online as a webinar.

What resources for veterans can you provide?

We have developed practical and easy-to-use check-lists, screening guides and resource cards that your colleagues may use in daily practice to provide relevant services and resources to veterans and families you come across in your profession.

Is the training certified?

The multiple hour training course is certified by the California Commission of Police Officers Standards and Training (POST).

Is continuing education credit available?

Yes, credit hours are available for various licensed professionals. The training for behavioral health and social service professionals is accredited by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences for MFT, LPCC, LEP, HR, CATC, CAADE, and LCSW professionals licensed in California. The law enforcement and Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training is certified by the California Commission of Police Officers Standards and Training (POST). Employment and Human Resources training is certified for GPHR, HRBP, HRMP, PHR, and SPHR by the HR Certification Institute.

How many people have received this training?

Since 2009, Swords to Plowshares has delivered Combat to Community® training to over 10,000 professionals throughout the nation.

Do we need to reside in California to receive the training?

No. We can provide the training anywhere, anytime as webinar. If you are outside of California and request an in-person training, contact us to discuss details.

How much does it cost?

We are fortunate to be able to provide this training program at low to no cost to your organization. Ask for details.

Who delivers the training?

Trainings are provided by experienced Swords to Plowshares Institute for Veteran Policy staff and mental health professionals with proven expertise on the topics of military culture and issues related to veteran mental health. Most of our trainers are veterans and are able to provide first-hand accounts of their professional and personal experience with transitioning from the military and navigating care.

Community Educators

Amy Fairweather, Director, The Institute for Veteran Policy

Amy Fairweather, Director at The Institute for Veteran PolicyAmy Fairweather is an attorney who has been working in public health for and with survivors of trauma for 15 years. Amy has led the IVP since its inception in 2005 and has directed IVP’s activities directed at preventing or mitigating trauma, homelessness and barriers to care for Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans. The scope of the IVP’s work now addresses veterans of all eras and backgrounds focusing on the underserved. She serves as Chair of the California Governor’s Inter-Agency Council on Veterans Health committee. She is an alumna of Mills College and Hastings College of the Law and has been a member of the California Bar since 1999.

Megan Zottarelli, Assistant Director, Institute for Veteran Policy

Megan Zottarelli, Assistant Director for the Institute for Veteran PolicyMegan directs our research, analysis, and technical assistance programs at Swords to Plowshares and writes numerous publications and curricula on veteran issues. She has a long history of serving underrepresented communities in nonprofits and received her Master of Public Administration with concentration in public policy from San Francisco State University in 2008.

Shannon Kissinger, Community Education Coordinator

Shannon Kissinger, Policy AssociateShannon Kissinger is a Policy Associate with Swords to Plowshares with a Masters in Social Work from Humboldt State University and bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in foreign policy. Shannon has extensive experience in veteran policy concentrating on macro solutions to veteran issues. Shannon presents Combat to Community® cultural competency curriculum and provides outreach and technical assistance to other community-based veteran services agencies.

Shannon worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Social Worker dealing specifically with homeless veterans, infectious disease, and medical practice. Shannon has also worked for numerous veteran non-profits and managed geriatric and senior services for clients. Shannon spent five years in the U.S. Navy as a Seabee and is a service-connected disabled veteran.

Victor Inzunza, Policy Analyst

Victor Inzunza, Policy AssociateVictor Inzunza is a Policy Analyst with Swords to Plowshares. He presents Combat to Community® cultural competency curriculum and provides outreach and technical assistance to other community-based veteran services agencies. Victor graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English from University of the Pacific and earned his MFA in writing from University of San Francisco.

Victor spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is an OIF veteran who served two tours of duty in 2003 and 2004. He has been active in the veteran community since 2008, focusing on access to education for California veterans. He served as president for the Student Veterans of America chapter at University of the Pacific.

Tyler Solorio, Policy Analyst

Tyler SolorioTyler Solorio is a Policy Analyst with Swords to Plowshares. He provides outreach and technical assistance to community-based veteran services agencies, presents Combat to Community® cultural competency curriculum, and conducts research on an array of veterans’ issues. Tyler graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public policy studies from DePaul University.

Tyler spent six years in the U.S. Army National Guard. He is an OEF veteran who deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. He has served as an advocate for veterans’ educational and mental health services. Tyler is also a former board member on the Illinois Board of Higher Education, where he helped spearhead veterans’ education issues at the state level.

Dr. David Joseph

Dr. David JosephDr. David Joseph received his PhD in clinical psychology from Alliant University in San Francisco, where he authored two independent research studies on PTSD in police officers. He has presented this research in numerous national conferences and appeared recently in the award-winning documentary about police officers and suicide, “The Pain Behind the Badge.”

In his clinical work, Dr. Joseph has continued to develop a specialty in the assessment, conceptualization and treatment of psychological trauma. Dr. Joseph currently serves as the primary clinician on a multi-year clinical trial of Seeking Safety, a treatment study for veterans with PTSD and substance use coordinated by the National Center for PTSD in Menlo Park. He is a regular presenter on “PTSD and Co-occurring Disorders” at the National Center for PTSD’s Clinical Training Program.

Dr. Christopher Weaver

Dr. Christopher WeaverDr. Christopher Weaver is Assistant Professor and Director of the Forensic Psychology Program at Palo Alto University in Palo Alto, CA. He received his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Louisville, and has held research fellowship and clinical positions at UC San Francisco, Stanford University, and the VA’s National Center for PTSD.

Dr. Weaver has emerged as a recognized researcher and clinician in the area of violence risk assessment, and more recently in the areas of suicide risk assessment, substance abuse and psychological trauma. He has numerous publications and presentations in these areas, including co-authored books in law and mental health and the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.