Alumnae/i Feature

Dwan Cannon ’21MSW Works with At-Risk Veterans: It Feels Like What I was Meant to do

What the job entails

Dwan is an SRO case manager at the New England Center and Home for Veterans, a care and service provider for former military service men and women at risk for homelessness. A veteran of the War in Afghanistan, Dwan works with nearly 60 men who live on four single-room occupancy (SRO) floors in the center’s supportive housing unit.

In this multi-faceted role, he facilitates weekly support groups, meets one-on-one with residents, and connects them with services and information to meet their needs and goals. “I might help my clients sign up for Section 8 housing, refer them to food resources, or teach them technology skills,” says Dwan. “I’m here to help them become more self-sufficient.”

What brought him to Simmons for a master of social work degree

After four and a half years in the Army, Dwan enrolled in the bachelor of social work program at Eastern Nazarene College. One of his professors earned her MSW from Simmons' School of Social Work and encouraged him to apply.

“She loved the program and thought I’d be a great fit,” he says. As a BSW graduate, Dwan applied to the MSW Advanced Standing Program at Simmons, with the goal of pursuing a clinical career working with veterans. “To do the kind of social work that I wanted to do,” he explains, “you had to have a master’s.”

There are days when this doesn’t even feel like work. It feels like what I was meant to do.

How the Simmons social work program prepared him

Dwan reports that he thrived at Simmons, quickly deepening his clinical knowledge and gaining additional experience in the field. He highlights coursework in substance use, assessment and diagnosis, and advanced clinical practice as essential for his work today. His professors, he adds, were especially adept at bringing out “our different ideas and perspectives.”

He also received great support from Simmons staff, particularly the Office of Military and Veteran Services. As an Advanced Standing student, Dwan completed one field placement, interning on the “Connect Team” at Somerville-Cambridge Elderly Services. There, he provided counseling to older adults, as well as coordinated referrals to health care services and programs to support independence. This experience, he says, “definitely formed the transition to my current role.”

Why it’s rewarding

“Just from being a veteran,” says Dwan, “I’ve built a strong rapport with the men. I understand some of what they’re going through—the pain, the restless nights. When I first got here, many of the veterans were depressed and angry, and now they smile when they see me. There are days when this doesn’t even feel like work. It feels like what I was meant to do.”

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