New Survey Shows Redeploying Veterans to Serve at Home Eases Reintegration Challenges

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Academic Assessment of The Mission Continues Programming Indicates Service-Based Outreach Improves Career Opportunities, Strengthens Community and Family Relationships

The Mission Continues Fellows Working Together at St. Louis Service Project

'The results show that volunteering with The Mission Continues can help vets reengage in their communities and can increase their well-being,' says Nancy Morrow-Howell, co-author and Faculty Associate, Center for Social Development, Washington University.

A new academic survey conducted by The Center for Social Development at Washington University and national veterans nonprofit The Mission Continues points to community volunteerism as an effective tool for addressing veterans’ reintegration challenges.

The multi-year study led by research social worker Dr. Monica Matthieu, an Assistant Professor, Saint Louis University School of Social Work, and Faculty Associate, Center for Social Development examined the personal, professional, relational and societal impacts experienced by more than 400 post-9/11 veteran participants in The Mission Continues service Fellowship program, which deploys returning veterans to their communities to perform six months of volunteer service with a local nonprofit.

Veterans’ responses to surveys administered before and after the completion of their Fellowship reveal that the fellowship program effectively combines participants’ military leadership skills with purpose-driven civic service activities to positively affect personal, family and community life. Key findings include:

  •     Professional Impact: Fellows reported that the program helped them improve their job performance (90%), chances of getting a promotion (86%) and chances of finding a job (90%), and encouraged them to make a career change (82%).
  •     Family Impact: Nearly half (45%) of study participants reported that the fellowship improved their relationships or communication with their families, 76% reported that they set an example for their families and children by participating in the program, and 86% reported that their families were proud of them.
  •     Veteran Health Impact: 27% screened positive for depression at the beginning of the program, while 13% did so after completing the program. After completing the Fellowship, 40% of Fellows rated their health status as somewhat better or much better than it was before the Fellowship.
  •     Community Impact: Nearly all participants (95%) stated that The Mission Continues Fellowship Program allowed them to make a contribution to their communities and 78% reported having a stronger attachment to their communities.

“The Mission Continues has witnessed the transformational importance of empowering veterans to find new ways to serve,” said The Mission Continues President Spencer Kympton. “Undertaking a rigorous program evaluation like this one reaffirms the positive effects of our work. The results also give us an opportunity to act and to improve our approach so we can ensure that this generation of veterans leaves a positive legacy of service and community impact.”

The perception of positive and lasting impacts of the Fellowship Program is enduring. After completing the fellowship, a majority of veterans reported starting a job, enrolling in school, or continuing to serve in their home communities at levels consistent with previous study findings.

“The results show that volunteering with The Mission Continues can help vets reengage in their communities and can increase their well-being," says Nancy Morrow-Howell, co-author and Faculty Associate, Center for Social Development, Washington University. “Many veterans could benefit from this program, because The Mission Continues provides a structured opportunity for meaningful engagement in activities valued by the community.”

For complete study results, please visit The Mission Continues National Initiative Publications at the Center for Social Development.

About The Mission Continues
The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans to serve their country in new ways through two innovative and action-oriented programs. The first, The Mission Continues Fellowship harnesses veterans’ strengths, skills and compassion and empowers them to serve in their community on a daily basis over the course of six months. The second, The Mission Continues Service Platoons, brings together teams of veterans with local community organizations and volunteers to build stronger communities. The Mission Continues has helped thousands of post-9/11 veterans focus their talents and energy to tackle challenges facing us right here at home. Through a unique model that provides reciprocal benefit for the veteran and the local community, veterans volunteer to help others and, through their service, build new skills that help them launch their civilian career. To learn more, visit: http://www.missioncontinues.org or follow us on Twitter @missioncontinue.

About the Center for Social Development
The Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis creates and studies innovations that enable individuals, families and communities to formulate and achieve life goals, and contribute to the economy and society. Through innovation and research, CSD makes intellectual and applied contributions in social development theory, evidence, community projects and public policy. The Brown School’s Center for Social Development (CSD) conducts research that informs how individuals, families, and communities increase capacity, formulate and reach life goals, and contribute to the economy and society with a principal focus on marginalized families and communities. Visit http://csd.wustl.edu for more information. Follow CSD on Twitter @csdwustl.

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