Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why Military Social Work?

Today's blog was written by Brianne, one of our wonderful social work interns.  We would not be able to help nearly as many families each month without the dedication of our interns.

I could bore you with my backstory and the long journey that brought me to Social Work, but I will keep it simple. Social work has always been an interest of mine and as I grew older I felt more passionate about pursuing my interest. The choice for me to pursue social work became easier for many personal reasons. My first career as a Marine wife and mother was what pushed me more specifically to military social work.
As a young wife and young mother I faced adversity and challenges that many of my peers could not understand or imagine. A lot of these challenges came from the differences I saw in my husband as he returned from his second deployment to Iraq and we were finally able to be a family. My husband and I grew up together and therefore know each other very well, so seeing the changes that occurred when he came home confused me. The main reason for this was because in his earlier career Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was not talked about often and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) was not a term I had even heard. But yet there was something different and I could not quite put my finger on it. I sat by and watched as he struggled with simple tasks, grew frustrated over insignificant events, and did not laugh nearly as much as he had in the past. It was these invisible wounds that broke my heart and reinforced my passion that I needed to be in a career that I could help people.
The people I wanted to help were the ones that have sacrificed so much for this country. Patriotism has an entirely new definition to me now because I did not grow up with a military background neither did my husband. Yet these brave men and women put so much on the line to do the jobs they signed up for and they should never have to suffer in silence. Working with the military feels like a true calling and I could not be prouder to have the opportunity to serve the men and women who have endured so much.

Inducted into Chi Zeta, honor society for social workers
Why Hope For The Warriors®?
Hope For The Warriors® was an easy choice for me. The program I attend at East Carolina University coordinates all of the internships for the social work program. I did not have much say in my first placement and knew that my passion was working with military. I used all of my research and presentation opportunities to educate my peers and professors about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the needs of the military. While I was thinking about my second (and final) placement before I graduated I knew I had to advocate for myself to get the placement I truly wanted. Researching different organizations and opportunities led me to a newspaper article announcing the hiring of a Regional Social Worker for Hope For The Warriors®. This sparked my interest in the organization. As a social worker we are trained and taught to focus on a Biopsychosocial approach to all issues. To me this is evident in military work. Not only do you have to consider biological factors (body chemistry, ailments, and disabilities), but you also have to consider the psychological factors (mental illness, traumatic experiences, perceptions, and attitudes) and the social factors (community, support systems, family, and friends) to address a problem effectively. Military having its own culture really puts into action the importance of the roles all three factors play. Hope For The Warriors® was the only organization I came across that proudly announced the employment of a Regional Social Worker! After my orientation and my first few weeks within the organization I was able to see an even clearer picture of the ideas and objectives behind the organization. I knew that I made the right choice advocating to work with Hope For The Warriors®.

Read about our program with MSW@USC

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