June 12, 2013
Riya V. Anandwala

SLU Partners with The Mission Continues to Evaluate Veterans Transition Program

ST. LOUIS - Saint Louis University School of Social Work and The Mission Continues, the national veterans' service organization, partnered to teach an innovative course this semester aimed at analyzing and evaluating the effectiveness of the organization's Fellowship program for post-9/11 veterans.

Monica Matthieu
Monica Matthieu, Ph.D., is an assistant professor
at Saint Louis University School of Social Work.

Twelve graduate students from the Cape Girardeau cohort of the Masters of Social Work program at Saint Louis University joined with The Mission Continues team for a semester-long course titled, "Evaluation of Human Service Programs." Working with data from more than two years of the program, their collaboration will help to ensure the quality of the Fellowship program for veterans, while working together helped to bridge the gap between civilians and veterans.

"The partnership with The Mission Continues is a critically important investment in the early growth for a St. Louis-based nonprofit. I'm excited our students have the opportunity to expand the impact of our research — to convey the meaning and value of the program to Social Work students who may be interested in serving veterans in their Social Work careers," said Monica Matthieu, assistant professor at the School of Social Work at Saint Louis University, and a co-creator of the course.

"The Mission Continues is a results-driven organization. We're dedicated to rigorous program evaluation, which ensures that quality services are delivered to this generation of veterans," said Aaron Scheinberg, Director of Strategy and Research, for The Mission Continues, and a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Iraq war, "We were able to accomplish this goal, because of our partnership with Dr. Matthieu and her students at Saint Louis University. They're making a real difference in supporting veterans successful transitions."

Saint Louis University has a long history of case-based, reflective learning and teaching. Throughout the semester, the students engaged multiple stakeholders, from both academia and the community, to participate in the research process and then to assist in interpretation of the results. This hands-on approach is a "win-win" for both the organization and the participating students. It helps to more rapidly disseminate study findings and students gain real-world experience in data analysis, project development and client management. "Learning the practice of program evaluation by working with The Mission Continues helped to give meaning to the numbers," said Beth Baugh, a masters' candidate student enrolled in the course "It inspired a real passion to learn and to do my best work for an organization that is making a difference in the life of veterans."

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