I hope to be accepted into the EDD Program at XXXX University in Community Care and Counseling, particularly in Traumatology (CCC). I am especially attracted to XXXX because the spiritual aspects of our lives have always been a central focus of my professional and interpersonal experiences. I see XXXX University’s Traumatology Program as the exercise of excellence in leadership across disciplines. I admire the sheer sophistication of your curriculum and the breadth of its coverage of trauma coverage.
Earning my MSW in 1991, I became a Social Work Officer in the US Army, serving as a clinical social work therapist, clinical director, domestic violence and child abuse treatment center administrator, and behavioral health instructor. In my final assignment, I served as an inpatient alcohol treatment substance abuse counselor until leaving the military in 2004. Subsequently, I was accepted at The Salvation Army College for Officer Training in Chicago, IL., with appointments as a pastor/Corps Officer, in Omaha, NE, completing an internship at the Adult Rehabilitation Center, Waukegan, IL, and finally serving as administrator for Harbor Light, St Louis, MO. I resigned from The Salvation Army in 2009. While serving as a part-time volunteer under the Chaplain's ministry program at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center, I earned an MA in Conflict Management from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary, Evansville, IN.
Completing my first year Social Work internship with the MS Society, Santa Clara, CA, my field practicum supervisor, and I conducted home visits with families and individuals with all stages of multiple sclerosis, most still young. Called the “young persons’ disease,” MS is especially devastating and traumatic for family members to lose loved one’s in the prime of life. In my second year, I interned at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center in an Inpatient Research Center for Schizophrenia and Other Mood Disorders.
As a Social Work Officer in the US Army for five years, I worked with psychiatrists, psychologists, and paraprofessional counselors, providing counseling and mental health care for soldiers and their families, including group therapy for small groups of soldiers who had been involved in domestic violence incidents and were mandated to receive treatment by their commanders. Soldiers involved in incidents were usually ordinary people, part of young couples with children struggling to make ends meet, many on food stamps, and the soldier-parent absent for weeks to months. Few qualified to live on a military installation, and few had any stable support network or base.
I often worked closely with military chaplains to provide battalion-wide seminars designed to equip young military spouses with the necessary interpersonal relationship skills and community resources for coping more effectively with the stressors of military life. Provided consultation to soldiers’ leaders to ensure their chain of command supported therapeutic efforts. Consulting with unit leadership was essential to ensuring that the soldier’s immediate and long-term mental and emotional health needs were effectively addressed. The risk of serious physical injury was always factored in during field training exercises. Whether deployed in field training exercises on the military installation or in combat environments, emergency medical assets and mental health providers were attached to these units to provide timely care for soldiers adversely affected by severe training accidents, sometimes resulting in death and others in need of mental health care.
I participated in basic and advanced Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) training workshops that Dr. Jeffery Mitchell facilitated. During the early-mid 1990s, CISD training was essential to facilitate debriefings with soldiers and first responders following traumatic training accidents resulting in severe injuries and death to prevent or mitigate the potential of post-traumatic stress. Conducting CIS debriefings helped prepare me to respond to a mass casualty in Sinai, Egypt, providing CISD to soldiers and first responders who witnessed a bus flip over with many dead and injured.
As Chief of Social Work Services at a central military installation, I provided supervision of administrative and clinical staff. Our primary mission: provide 24/7 emergency assessment and treatment of families affected by domestic violence, physical/sexual abuse, and neglect of children. I coordinated responses with emergency room health care providers and military and local law enforcement. I provided group therapy to perpetrators of domestic violence, holding weekly multidisciplinary committee meetings to address incidents of domestic violence and child abuse and neglect. I coordinated in-service training with local academic experts from local universities on domestic violence and clinical social workers and mental health staff. While serving as an instructor in the Department of Behavior Health at the U.S. Army Medical Department Center & School (AMEDD C&S) in San Antonio, Texas, I researched and developed classes on combat stress control, presenting two posters about U.S. forces deployed to Sinai, Egypt.
I supported the American Red Cross mental health disaster response following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and the 1998 flood in south Texas. While in graduate school, I provided training support to Red Cross volunteers who assessed earthquake damage to homes and communities and first responders who extracted victims and survivors of the Cypress Bridge collapse in Oakland, CA. In 1998, I and several other mental health officers/instructors from the Academy of Health Sciences in San Antonio provided crisis counseling to survivors of the devastation of the La Victoria River that flooded a community in a border town adjacent to Mexico. Because I spoke Spanish, I could interact therapeutically with some flooding victims who suffered the death of loved ones.
During my final two years on active duty in South Korea, I served as a substance abuse counselor at a six-week inpatient treatment facility for military service members. The counseling staff conducted individual and group treatment sessions with service members of all ranks and provided psychoeducation on various aspects of addiction. I learned a lot about alcoholism and the cycle of addiction. Forming relationships with these soldiers who were beginning their recovery helped bring closure to my father’s alcoholism during my formative and adolescent years.
In 2004, after 24 years, I retired as an officer from the US Army and began my studies at The Salvation Army College for Officer Training, Chicago, IL. Following my ordination in 2006, I was assigned to North Omaha, Nebraska, where I served as a pastor, coordinating an adult feeding program and an afterschool recreation and feeding program for young children. The church and community had not recovered from riots that left burned and gutted-out grocery stores and abandoned businesses still standing after 40 years. At the time, North Omaha was among the most poverty-stricken communities in the United States. High School graduation was only 40%, and the Bloods and the Crips had frequent gun battles nearby.
We collaborated with staff from the regional Salvation Army Headquarters to obtain funding from the Mutual of Omaha and other regional banks to transform the North Omaha Corps church and community center into state-of-the-art worship, educational, and recreational center complete with a cafeteria 2008-2009. I was assigned to the Harbor Light Center as an administrator of a 160-bed residential treatment center that provided individual and group addiction counseling, life skills to function in society, and training and job application assistance to gain employment after. The Harbor Light staff consisted of addiction counselors, food/kitchen services, security personnel, nursing, and physicians.
Since resigning from the Salvation Army in July 2009, I began volunteering at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC), where I served as a co-leader during worship services. I also taught state-mandated anger management classes. To say that I learned a lot about myself would be an understatement. While at MECC, I earned a second master's degree in Conflict Management. Military and former military and prison populations are my central focus. I am researching trauma's effects on military personnel and developing relationships with emotional support animal companions (dogs, horses, etc.) concerning their potential for psycho-emotional healing. There is little evidence-based research that has been done in this critical area.
I look forward to working collaboratively with non-profit agencies that assist men being released from incarceration with their transition to their respective communities. I am interested in researching the impact of trauma before, during, and after their release from detention and the challenges they experience re-integrating with their families. Another research focus is the impact of trauma on families and the challenges they encounter. At the same time, their father/mother/husband/wife was incarcerated during the reintegration process, and how individual and familial ethnic and cultural factors influence the effects of trauma.
I thank you for considering my application to the EDD Program in Community Care and Counseling at XXXX University,
EDD Community Care and Counseling Personal Statement