WASHINGTON U.-ST. LOUIS (US) — Disabled veterans who continue to give back on a volunteer basis improve their employment prospects, further their education, and become better role models for their children.
Through the Mission Continues fellowship program, a national nonprofit organization, returning veterans receive a stipend to serve as a volunteer at a nonprofit for 28 weeks, typically at social service agencies located in their own communities.
“After the completion of the fellowship, many of the fellows who participated in the study reported starting a new job, enrolling in school, or continuing to serve in their home communities,” says Monica Matthieu, research assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
“Veterans also felt that the fellowship prompted lifestyle changes such as getting out of the house and meeting new people, networking for their future, taking an active role in helping other veterans, being a role model to their children, and teaching their communities the value of service.”
For a new study, Matthieu surveyed veterans who had participated in the Fellowship Program from 2007-2010 to assess the program impacts, veterans’ history of civic engagement, motivations, and perceived impacts of the program on their personal, professional, and social relationships.
Concentratings on three main categories of impact: education, employment and continued service, the survey showed:
- 71 percent furthered their education
- 86 percent transferred their military skills to civilian employment
- 91 percent built networking opportunities for a future career path
- 86 percent said the program helped them to become a leader within their community
- 91 percent taught others the value of service and were able to sustain a role of service within their community
“Civic service programs for veterans such as The Mission Continues provide disabled veterans, who might otherwise see their future as extremely limited, with the opportunity to pursue a new path in life,” Matthieu says.
“For some veterans, volunteering at an agency that they choose provides the time and the place to develop new skills towards an alternative career trajectory.
“Programs like The Mission Continues that offer disabled veterans social support and meaningful work have the potential to significantly improve their health, mental health and psychosocial well being across their life course.”
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