Fontbonne University Social Work Department Partners with Veterans Treatment Court

Top Quote Fontbonne University's social work department is partnering with the Jefferson County courts to begin a veterans treatment court for former service members facing criminal charges. End Quote
  • St. Louis, MO-IL (1888PressRelease) April 21, 2015 - Faculty and students in Fontbonne University's social work department are kicking off a new program in partnership with the 23rd Judicial Court in Jefferson County, Mo. The program, a veterans treatment court, will offer an alternative treatment option to former service members facing criminal charges.

    Members of Fontbonne's social work department and a support team from the Jefferson County courts will hold an official kick-off event for the program on April 21 at 7 p.m. at the Arnold, Mo., VFW, 2301 Church Road, Arnold, Mo. 63010. The event will feature a line-up of speakers, including the head of the Missouri Department of Corrections and former participants in VA courts in St. Louis jurisdictions.

    The program is the brainchild of Judge Patricia Riehl, who is an advocate for veterans in treatment courts. "I worked with a veteran in another treatment court who committed suicide," Riehl recalled. "I wondered if there would have been a different outcome for him if he had received the support he truly needed as a veteran. I am excited to be working with Fontbonne because I've never had a team to provide the formal evaluations that are so critical to the success of a veterans program like this."

    Legal hardships faced by many veterans upon returning home can often be attributed to substance abuse or mental health issues.

    Faculty and students in Fontbonne's social work program will be providing important data analysis for the treatment court. "Veterans are a unique and underserved population, and this program is a good way to get to the root of the problems faced by many," said Laura Beaver, assistant professor of social work at Fontbonne. "Our hope is that with an emphasis on mental health services and a respect for the service of our veterans, we will be able to provide better treatment which will result in a more stable future."

    Once accepted into the program, veterans will be placed in a specialized treatment track based on their individual needs. All participants will meet regularly with a case manager and probation or parole officer. They will also participate in individual and group counseling sessions and work with a mentor who is also a veteran.

    Fontbonne's social work faculty and students will collect and analyze data on program participants throughout the minimum 24-month program. Upon completion of the program, the Fontbonne social work team will also perform follow-up evaluations at several intervals. And they will be trying to collect relevant data on those who weren't accepted into the program or who don't complete it.

    "This is a great opportunity for our students," Beaver said. "Many social work students don't get to experience this kind of field work at the undergraduate level. And part of Fontbonne's mission has always been committed to serving the greater community. This is a meaningful way for us to blend service with academics."

    Weekly appearances before a judge are required, and participating veterans must obey a curfew and are subject to random drug testing. Veterans must be actively seeking employment or volunteer work or enrollment in an education or training program. As they move through the program, the requirements are lessened so that they are empowered to go out on their own and continue to succeed, according to Riehl.

    Fontbonne University is a Catholic coeducational institution of higher education offering liberal arts and professional programs, as well as evening and online formats for adult learners. Fontbonne was founded in 1923 and is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. For more information, visit

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