As a Veteran of the US Military, I identify with and will always be primarily concerned with the well-being of my former fellow soldiers risking their lives in the service of our country. We owe a debt to these individuals as a society. It concerns me greatly when I see homeless and mentally ill veterans in great need of help and generally forgotten by society. I want to study this issue in-depth and make it the center of my research and practice as a Social Worker.
At this point, I have more questions than answers. Is the military not doing enough to guide them to civilian life? Why does our government place such a low priority on helping these individuals? What type of assistance and continued assistance is called for in such cases? Where along the line were these people failed by the military and, ultimately, our society as a whole? What are the best ways to go about helping these individuals to reintegrate into society in prosperous and dignified ways that do justice to the fact that they once put their lives on the line for us all? What are some of the best ways for them to again become productive members of our society instead of being left alone and homeless?
PTSD also concerns me greatly. For this reason, I want to invest a great deal of my time and energy in the study of early identification since studies have shown that this has a significant impact on the effectiveness of treatment. I am concerned that many veterans out there are not getting the mental health services they need in a timely fashion. It is difficult to live successfully with severe PTSD and continue contributing to society – without help. I want to contribute to providing that help.
I am also concerned that people in the LGBTQ community continue to experience prejudice and unequal treatment. It is okay to love someone who also loves you back, and even though gay marriage is now allowed, some people still find it hard to accept, especially in certain parts of the country, which troubles me. I look forward to helping to foster more tolerant attitudes leading to the full embrace of equal treatment.
Being a medic and hospital corpsman in the military initially made me want to become a nurse since caring for the sick and wounded is something I felt called for, and I also feel strongly that I could have made an excellent nurse. I chose Social Work, however, because I have increasingly come to appreciate how taking care of others goes far beyond the physical, and I crave this aspect, the spiritual and humane. My military service has enabled me to work with many people from different racial and social backgrounds. We were all American, learning, working together, and caring for one another. I relish diversity, bringing together different cultures and traditions. I joined the military when "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was law and saw first-hand how some of my gay military friends lived in secrecy, afraid of being kicked out of the military for being gay. Now that "DADT" has been repealed, more gays and lesbians are coming out and there is more traction in the movement for equal rights in the military. I feel strongly that there is significant room for improvement in allocating jobs and salaries along gender lines in the military. Although I come from a middle-class family, I have certain biases that result from growing up as a minority and an immigrant. I grew up with few privileges. I never had two parents, only one at a time, which made many things difficult. The disintegration of my own family could do and learn many things, which gave me the training and knowledge that will help make me highly motivated to help troubled families as an MSW professional.
The XXXX MSW social work program has an urban focus and strives to train students to be competent in individual, organizational, community, and policy (i.e., micro, mezzo, and macro) interventions. My military training has taught me to multitask with great success. As a medic and hospital corpsman, I could do and learn many things, which gave me the training and knowledge that will help enhance my capacity as a Social Worker. The central goal of Social Work is to ensure the well-being of children, the mentally ill, the homeless, etc., and those with special needs. The Social Worker must be an excellent listener to arrive at an adequate understanding of those basic needs and search for available resources. As Social Workers, we have to serve as voices for those in need, promoting diversity and working against discrimination.
I promote tolerance. I learned many important lessons about tolerance and intolerance in the military. I hope to unlearn some macho stereotypes beaten into my brain in the military. I look forward to helping veterans, children, senior citizens, and anyone who needs help, and I am capable of and able to help. I want to help veterans get back on their feet when they feel down and alone and children have a home and nutritious food. I feel strongly that there should be no homeless children or veterans in America.
I joined the US Army to become a combat medic because I wanted to save lives. I deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-to 2006, and it is there where I learned the importance of life and taking care of other people. I provided medical support to all my soldiers and many wounded Iraqi civilians. I also provided mental and emotional support for my soldiers to help them deal with the stress of deployment and the separation from their loved ones back home. I provided them with the emotional support they needed regarding grieving the loss of their comrades.
As a Sailor and Hospital Corpsman, I provided medical support to Sailors and Marines and managed their medical and dental readiness to prepare them for deployment. I also supervised our medical department, ensuring that all services were provided to patients coming to our outpatient clinics for blood draws, immunizations, sick calls, etc. I confirmed that all my soldier's medical and dental readiness was up to date and in compliance, which enabled them to be ready for deployment. I provided medical support during training exercises which improved readiness. Making a difference in someone's life and making them feel that they are not alone, providing a listening ear and a kind, concerned, and sincere voice of empathy, consolation, and empowerment. After 15 years in the military, I feel it is time to retire and continue to serve society in other ways, helping to heal invisible wounds and help people learn to suffer less in my community.