UW Madison: Funds will improve app to help vets at ‘Dryhootch’ coffeehouses

CONTACT: Bob Curry, 262-337-2338, [email protected]
DOWNLOAD PHOTOS: https://uwmadison.box.com/v/DryHootch

MILWAUKEE – It’s a quiet March afternoon on Brady Street in Milwaukee, and a few folks are enjoying first-class java at Dryhootch Coffeehouse.

Andy Rosario, a Vietnam Marine veteran, is playing guitar. Then Tom Pieper, who lucked out in the draft lottery, brings out his guitar, and they talk quietly as they start to tackle a Beatles song.

“When you play music, the other stuff just kind of goes away,” says Rosario.

Dryhootch is a nonprofit, alcohol- and drug-free hootch (Vietnam-era slang for shelter) dedicated to the physical and mental health of U.S. veterans.

The coffeehouse – the brainchild of Vietnam vet Robert Curry – opened 10 years ago. The organization has a second location near the Milwaukee VA Medical Center on National Avenue, and a coffeehouse near the veterans hospital in Madison. There are plans to open an apartment building and coffeehouse on Madison’s East Side, and for another in Atlanta.

Dryhootch is a shoestring affair that has received financial help and other assistance from government, foundations and institutions. In January, it received a $50,000 grant from the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. The grant will fund refinements of a prototype smartphone app built to connect vets statewide and beyond to Dryhootch.

Working with many community partners, Dryhootch’s broad mission is to heal the emotional or physical trauma of service, and to reintegrate veterans into society. Reaching that goal can mean overcoming obstacles to employment, education or housing.

But the starting point may simply be a safe place to hang out, mingle and reminisce. To tell a joke. Or to sit quietly.

There is one role that Dryhootch rejects, however. “When a vet walks in here, we are not making judgments,” Curry says. “Outside, if you reveal something about your service, you may be judged as less than human. But you can tell another vet.”

READ THE FULL STORY: https://news.wisc.edu/uw-funds-will-improve-app-to-help-vets-at-dryhootch-coffeehouses/