Generosity Spotlight, Susan and Michael Haney

Inspiration and Impact: The story of the creation of the Illinois School of Social Work Student Support Fund and how the generosity of the SSW community and one very special couple have lessened the burden of a global pandemic.

Global pandemic sounds ominous on its own. Visions of plagues and apocalyptic scenarios are conjured up in our minds and, for some of us, the situation remains purely surreal. Many of us are fortunate to be able to continue our lives with only minor inconveniences such as working from home, wearing a mask in public, and missing out on summer vacations and (groan) baseball. However, for many more of us, including several of our students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work, the effects of COVID-19 are much more consequential.

The Office of Student Affairs at the SSW serves as the front lines for all-things related to students at the School. Whether there is a need for guidance on class requirements, assistance in choosing a field placement, or just help in dealing with the rigors of being a human being in a contentious world, Student Affairs is there to triage and guide our future and current generations of social workers. Since the world started changing in mid-March 2020, these calls for help have intensified in both number and scope. Not only are students still in need of counseling and guidance on issues related to their studies, but there has been a growing call for assistance with financial issues related to COVID-19. One such case involved a young woman, who we’ll give the pseudonym Amber. Before COVID struck, Amber was prepared to graduate this summer. Unfortunately, with the new travel restrictions associated with the pandemic, Amber found that her final class (and the associated financial support) was being postponed indefinitely. Finding herself short the final credits she needed to complete her degree, Amber turned to the faculty and staff for guidance.

One particular faculty member, Dr. Janet Carter-Black, quickly became an advocate for this student and fought to find a resolution that would still allow her to graduate as intended. Coursework was identified and vacancies were found to accommodate Amber, but the cost totaled just over $3000. Her parents had been impacted by the pandemic and were unable to adequately earn income to support her needs. In fact, Amber had been sending money back home from her own work to support her family. The Illinois CARES Emergency Support Fund was able to provide her and thousands of other students with a $1000 emergency grant, but this was only a proverbial band-aid, as this money was quickly used to meet the basic needs of her and her family. The only conventional option she had at that point was to postpone graduation and focus on taking care of the most basic needs in lieu of her education.

Through consultation with the SSW Student Affairs office, along with the advocacy of Dr. Carter-Black, and the financial support of SSW faculty and staff and one very special couple, the Illinois School of Social Work Student Support Fund was created to aid this student and others like her with unforeseen needs. Amber is back on track to graduate this summer. While she still faces the rigors of being a student and wage-earner for her family, she no longer has to choose between paying for basic needs or her education.


“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” – Jane Addams


Susan and Michael Haney are that very special couple referenced above. Through a lifetime of generosity and over two decades of giving to the University of Illinois, the Haneys recognize that once we have taken care of ourselves, we should work to do the same for others. In that spirit, they have committed $100,000 in support of the Illinois School of Social Work Student Support Fund so that students will not have to choose between their education and meeting their most basic needs. The calls for support continue to come into the SSW Office of Student Affairs, ranging from issues with food security and making rent payments to assistance with acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to work and complete internships. And, given the uncertainty of the world we live in today, these appeals for support are not likely to abate any time soon. The Haneys have given us a solid start at helping the most vulnerable students, but they ask for their generosity to be met as a challenge to the rest of us. If you have secured the good for yourself, then consider sharing that good with those that have dedicated themselves to being the agents of good – the current and next generation of social workers.


Please contact Nathan Goebel in the Office of Advancement to discuss how you can contribute to this cause. You can also make a one-time or recurring gift.

Make a Gift

Please indicate in the “Other” field that you would like your gift to go towards the Student Support Fund. All gifts will go directly to support those students with emergency needs at SSW.

Pamela Wilhoite, MSW student

“I was born and raised in the city, and south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. I come from a family of seven and had to help take care of my younger siblings as a child. I started off as a writer and musician, interning for the Chicago  Sun-Times in the features department at the age of 14, but being a social worker and therapist was always in my heart. I started my college career as a music therapy major at University of Iowa, and decided to accept the call to social work one year later.

Being at the University of Illinois School of Social Work has been life changing and a breath of fresh air. What I enjoy the most is the plethora of programs that are offered, the diversity of faculty and students, and being able to build a rapport with my professors and the staff. Illinois is in my heart, and I’m glad to be a part of a program that adheres to their mission.”

Pamela will complete her MSW in clinical social work next year. She hopes to work internationally with children, people with disabilities, and families. She also aspires to become a philanthropist who works with foster children and orphans both domestically and around the world. She has volunteered with the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club and a variety of other nonprofit agencies in the community. She has been inducted into Sigma Gamma Rho, a social service and professional organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for women and their families.

Pamela was recently awarded the 2020 Lyle Niklaus Memorial Scholarship from The Division of Disability Resources & Educational Services at College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This scholarship supports students affiliated with DRES who are working towards a graduate degree.

Ashti Dawson, MSW Student

MSW student, Ashti Dawson is making a strong impact during her field internship placement at Logan Correctional Center, where she has created the first group program for incarcerated female veterans in the state of Illinois.

  1. What led you to the field of social work?

    My journey to the field of social work has been a long and interesting one and has come full circle in a way. For most of my youth I was in foster care and growing up I had considered being a social worker for a brief period of my life. At some point I struggled with my identity and was unsure of what I wanted to do when I grew up. After graduating high school, I joined the Army National Guard, went to college on and off, had a child and got an active duty position with the Army National Guard. Toward the end of my military career after serving 15 years, I attended an equine assisted psychotherapy session with another military service-member. That was the moment I knew I what I wanted to be when I grew up! From then I had to figure out how and what steps it took to get there. Basically, it came down to deciding which licensure path I wanted to choose and after many conversations with multiple professionals within both LCPC and LCSW professions I decided that the field of social work was the correct path for me.

  2. What attracted you specifically to the University of Illinois School of Social Work to pursue your MSW degree?

    First, I knew two other veteran peers and personal friends who were on the tail end of completing their degree with the School. They had so many wonderful things to say about the program, specifically the iMSW program. Second, I had just completed my bachelor’s in psychology at the University of Illinois in Springfield and was hoping to continue under the university umbrella. Third, it was not a far commute for the few classes I did have to travel to campus for!

  3. What interested you about the correctional center as the location of your field internship site?

    When working with my field liaison at the School of Social Work, I had informed her that I was very interested in an opportunity to work with veterans and animals because I am a veteran and I am also currently certified in equine assisted psychotherapy. At Logan Correctional Center, they have a dog program, which she had informed me of, so it had immediately piqued my interest. Unfortunately, I quickly found out that my role in my internship would not play a part in the dog program. I was also very intrigued by the opportunity to work with a larger staff and population and more exposure to work in the field, applying what we have learned within the clinical mental health concentration.

  4. Tell us a little about the duties of your internship and what you are learning from this experience.

    While I have been at Logan Correctional Center, I have had exposure to a variety of clinicians within mental health as well as patients. My duties have ranged from attending routine trainings, supervision and staff meetings, routine follow ups with patients to crisis interventions, intake screenings, mental health evaluations and organizing and facilitating a group.

  5. You’re working on a special internship project specifically for female veteran inmates…tell us all about it!

    For my internship project, we are supposed to choose one of the 12 Grand Challenges of Social Work. I have chosen “Promote Smart Decarceration” with an Emphasis on Incarcerated Female Veterans. Within the state of Illinois, there has not been a program or group for incarcerated female veterans. This is the first. Currently, I am running a female veteran’s group at Logan Correctional Center where we discuss mental health concerns related to military service and incarceration, veterans benefit with a mix of military culture.

    For these female veterans, this is their identity. It will always be a huge part of their identity, as it is mine. I can relate to that. There are parts of their military service that can be compared to their incarceration. For example, transitioning out of the military. The feelings of abandonment or isolation. These females have experienced that once in their life, after their military service, and will experience it again upon discharge from prison. If there is something, I can do to reduce that anxiety, reduce recidivism and/or provide that “soft landing” on their transition back to the real world, I am happy to be a part of that journey for these females. I love to share about this project, and I am so very proud of it because it has given myself and these female veterans purpose.

  6. You are set to graduate in May 2020. What are your future career goals?

    Ultimately, I would love to continue my work in equine assisted psychotherapy. I want to continue working with veterans! I also have a substance abuse background and enjoy working with that population as well! I hope to see this female veteran group continue and perhaps I can continue to be a part of it!

  7. Share your favorite memory from your time as an SSW student!

    I must give my favorite memory to my two friends that have helped me grow throughout this program. We began this program together but didn’t become friends until the second semester when we were assigned to a group together. Since then, every memory we make together has been my favorite! Julie and Nathan have helped me to be a better friend, student and social worker!

Sondra Fogel, Ph.D. 94

"As social workers, we give so much of ourselves to others and various organizations, but we often fail to give back to the places that prepare us to fulfill the important mission of our profession – our schools!" By naming the School of Social Work at Illinois as a beneficiary in her estate, Sondra Fogel hopes to inspire others to take part in creating a “culture of giving.”

Dr. Sondra J. Fogel is a 1994 graduate of the Ph. D. program at the University of Illinois School of Social Work. She currently serves as Ph.D. Program Chair and an associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of South Florida. Dr. Fogel is also the Editor-in-Chief of Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, the most enduring, continuously published social work journal. Her complete bio and a list of accomplishments can be found below.

We had the opportunity to ask Sondra about her inspiration for generosity – and why she chose to name SSW as a beneficiary in her estate planning.

Interested in sharing your Generosity with SSW? Contact Nathan Goebel in the Office of Advancement at ntgoebel@illinois.edu for ideas and inspiration.

 

What aspect of social work gives you the most satisfaction?

The skills, knowledge and critical thinking skills to work in multiple systems with diverse individuals, groups, and communities and to advocate for and promote social justice solutions for complex problems. In other words—being a professional social worker!

 

When you think of the School of Social Work, what keywords or phrases come to your mind?

(1) Inspiration

(2) Transformation

(3) Professionalism

 

What inspired you to become a donor to the School?

As a recipient of scholarship funding for my education, I have had the opportunity to realize my professional aspirations of obtaining advanced academic degrees in social work. I could not have done this without the generous financial assistance I received, especially from the University of Illinois School of Social Work. So, as I consider what is truly important to me, it is to help others who need financial support to enter this profession and received the outstanding educational experience available at the School of Social Work.

 

What result/impact/outcome do you hope your gift will achieve for the School of Social Work at Illinois? 

I hope that the gift will assist promising students to achieve their professional dreams. But I hope that it also inspires others to develop or participate in a “culture of giving” for the School. I hope to inspire others to commit to this culture as soon as they can, perhaps establishing a practice of giving to the School every year after graduation.

 

Is there an important moment, person or special occasion that influenced your decision?

The University of Illinois School of Social Work is a very special place and I am glad that I can give back. It was something I knew I wanted to do. I always appreciated how warmly I was greeted by School personnel when I was at conferences. I appreciate being kept informed of the activities and research projects that are occurring in the School through the newsletter too. I also was fortunate to have the faculty that were my professors transform into great colleagues and mentors over the years.


Full Bio:

Dr. Sondra J. Fogel is the Ph.D. Program Chair and an associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of South Florida. Dr. Fogel is the Editor-in-Chief of Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, the most enduring, continuously published social work journal. Dr. Fogel’s research interests are primarily focused on homelessness and vulnerable populations, social work education, and capital punishment. Beginning with her dissertation research which focused on homeless women living in a transitional housing shelter and how they transitioned back into the local community, she has consistently written about concerns that are a result of poverty or social injustices. In addition, Dr. Fogel has written about issues for social work education including field liaison work, community-academic partnerships, and macro practice issues. Her numerous presentations reflect these topics as well. Many of her academic publications and presentations are based on funded grant or contract work.

Dr. Fogel has published a co-edited book (with Dr. Maria. Roberts-DeGennaro), on the use of evidence-informed practice for macro interventions. She is the editor (or co-editor) of several special journal issues on topics such as poverty, peace, environmental justice, homelessness, and prevention in social work practice. The special issue on environmental justice published in Social Work Education: The International Journal has been reproduced into a book printed by Routledge Press.

Dr. Fogel has taught a variety of course topics in the BSW, MSW, and Ph.D. programs. She has worked with doctoral students in social work as well as in criminology. Most of her teaching is in the macro practice areas. As a former Director of Field Education, Dr. Fogel also has extensive experience with preparing students for professional practice. Dr. Fogel has served in many leadership roles in both academic and professional communities. For example, she is past president of the Association for Community Organization and Social Administration (ACOSA) and currently serves as an Ex-Officio member for the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice. In addition, she is the USF partner representative to the National Center for Excellence on Homeless Services. Dr. Fogel’s prior work experience includes serving as the Director for Army Community Services (ACS) and as the Family Advocate for military members and their families when she worked overseas in Germany with the Army. She was also part of a research team investigating competing models of care for patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDs in the early 1980s.

Honoring Those Who Served: Dr. Shanondora Billiot, Assistant Professor

In the days leading up to Veterans Day 2019, we will highlight School of Social Work alumni, faculty and students who are veterans, those who have served in the military, and those whose current practice serves the needs of veterans. Thank you to all for your dedicated service.

  1. What branch of service did you serve in?

    I served in the United States Air Force (1997-2002) and the Louisiana Air National Guard (2002-2005)

  2. What got you through basic training?

    The thought that I would have to go back home to wait tables for my aunt and live with family, and not attend college.

  3. Where were you stationed while in the service?

    Training: Lackland AFB, TX; Ft. Mead, MD
    STATIONS: Peterson AFB, CO; RAF Lakenheath AFB, United Kingdom LA AIR NATIONAL GUARD: Belle Chase, LA

  4. Can you describe your experience of military culture in one word?

    Respect

  5. What are some recommendations that you would give to our fellow social workers who are providing services to former or current military personnel?

    Listen with empathy and without judgement, honor their service by allowing them decision making agency in their care.

  6. If applicable, what did you go on to do as a career after your service?

    I became a social worker, first as a health policy analyst for the US Department of Veterans Affairs in DC and then as an educator currently at the University of Illinois School of Social Work.

  7. How did your service and experiences affect your life?

    Through training and structure I developed confidence and tools to get back up when I fail and learn from my mistakes. I don’t need to know exactly what is on the other side of the wall, I just need to climb it one rung at a time.

  8. How has your service and experiences intersected with your role as a social worker?

    First, the military structure demonstrated how a community can work together to provide basic needs and tools to help everyone who is willing to participate succeed. In this sense, the military helped me see a version of the settlement houses and how they can thrive in modern society.

    Second, is of course, that “everyone” has reflected the macrocosm of the nation’s idea of equality. We’ve seen the military struggles as they attempt(ed) to incorporate race, gender, citizenship, and sexual identity into the notion of “everyone”. As a social work educator, we are obligated to expand acceptance to everyone and incorporate all the differences that come with non-binary categories in order to reflect to the military our idea of equality and equity. Third, when you put on the uniform, whether the military uniform or the social work role, you are expected to rise to your highest level of integrity.

  9. Do you have a memory that you want to share?

    After 9/11 all junior to mid-level enlisted personnel in non-combat positions were required to rotate through the security forces (police) service for enhanced base security. The position on the base (gates, secure centers, etc.) were determined by rank order of weapon qualifications. As a graphic designer, I only qualified on the M9 and M16, so very low compared to most of the security force personnel. For several days on my first rotation, I was given the assignment to guard a breeched gate. The gate was adjacent a cow field to one side and the base commander’s house on the other. Since I was so low on the weapon list, I was dropped off at the gate for 12 hours with only a whistle. Yes, a whistle. So all day I did calisthenics in a cow field. Every day they would pick me up and ask how it went and I would exclaim, “Great!”.  It wasn’t until the end of the rotation that I was told they actually had a camera on the area and that the main office could see me exercising all day. Slowly they began giving me assignments with actual weapons, I think because I refused to complain… but the entire time I was named “whistle”.

  10. Is there anything you wish others knew about military service that you wish more people understood?

    Combat is only a small portion of “Security”, while the department is named “Defense” the military invests in communities, our citizens, and global infrastructure for protection against climate change and infectious diseases. I wish that advocates for social justice would embrace the efforts the military does to advance social justice instead of demonizing those that serve.

Honoring Those Who Served: Gail Tittle, MSW ‘96

In the days leading up to Veterans Day 2019, we will highlight School of Social Work alumni, faculty and students who are veterans, those who have served in the military, and those whose current practice serves the needs of veterans. Thank you to all for your dedicated service.

  1. What branch of service did you serve in?

    US Air Force

  2. What got you through basic training?

    I went to Officer’s Training (not basic, which is for enlisted). Perseverance and determination got me through it.

  3. Where were you stationed while in the service?

    NORAD, Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, CO; Torrejon AB, Spain; Lakenheath AB, UK; Naval Post-Graduate School, Monterey, CA; Pentagon, Washington, DC; Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, VA

  4. Can you describe your experience of military culture in one word?

    Disciplined

  5. What are some recommendations that you would give to our fellow social workers who are providing services to former or current military personnel?

    Military persons live and speak in a different culture and language. There is an attitude that anything can be achieved and a shared sense of responsibility in accomplishing the mission at hand. The military becomes like family since everyone is away from their extended families, and sometimes their immediate family members. Knowing these things should frame your approach to a military person in providing services.

  6. If applicable, what did you go on to do as a career after your service?

    I came to the University of Illinois and got my MSW and worked as a social worker for 20 years before becoming a social science research evaluator.

  7. How did your service and experiences affect your life?

    I grew up in the military, as my father served for 26 years in the Air Force. My life has been profoundly affected by this experience. It taught me service, dedication, organization, independence, a love for travel and new cultural experiences, and a broad perspective of the world.

  8. How has your service and experiences intersected with your role as a social worker?

    Social work extended my military experience of service and giving to my community. I also learned many skills during my military career that were very useful for my professional success: writing, computer skills, management expertise, flexibility.

  9. Do you have a memory that you want to share?

    Having served as an intelligence officer during the US strike on Libya (the aircraft I worked with in the UK conducted this mission) and the incursion into Iraq for Desert Storm (I was on duty during the first missile attack), I can still recall the profound impact these had on the military persons serving at that time. Military persons know that they are personally connected to these actions. One does not join the military to go to war, but to prevent wars.

  10. Is there anything you wish others knew about military service that you wish more people understood?

    People who serve truly see this as service to our country and its people.

Honoring Those Who Served: Tina Turner, MSW '16

In the days leading up to Veterans Day 2019, we will highlight School of Social Work alumni, faculty and students who are veterans, those who have served in the military, and those whose current practice serves the needs of veterans. Thank you to all for your dedicated service.

  1. What branch of service did you serve in?

    Army

  2. What got you through basic training?

    I didn’t go to basic training because I entered the Army through ROTC in college.

  3. Where were you stationed while in the service?

    I was stationed at Fort Knox, KY, Fort Leonardwood, MO, and Fort Campbell, KY.

  4. Can you describe your experience of military culture in one word?

    Describing military culture in one word is so hard! I can’t pick just one, so I’m going to cheat and say “challenging yet fulfilling”. Being in the military is not easy…every day everyone and everything challenges you to go outside of your comfort zone, push yourself, fail but try again, make mistakes, and do things you’ve never done before…but all of it is to make you better at your job, a better person, a better leader, and develop you for the next task, unit, duty station, or rank you achieve.

  5. What are some recommendations that you would give to our fellow social workers who are providing services to former or current military personnel?

    Remind them just how strong they are – they have been through things that most could not imagine. Seeking help and support is a sign of strength more than it is a sign of weakness. Having been in an environment where so many things are dictated for us by others, giving them a sense of control over things can go a long way.

  6. If applicable, what did you go on to do as a career after your service?

    I left the service in July of 2015, and was in the classroom two weeks later working towards my MSW at the University of Illinois. After receiving my degree, I continued working at the university while my husband finished his MBA, and when we relocated I became the Suicide Prevention Program Manager for the New Mexico Army National Guard. When that contract ended, I transitioned into the field of human resources where I still currently work as an Area Human Resources Business Partner for Lowe’s.

  7. How did your service and experiences affect your life?

    The military pushed me farther than I ever thought I could go physically, mentally, and emotionally. It has shown me just how much I can handle, which has helped me during times of increased stress or adversity. It has given me a deep appreciation for the pleasures of life, having been away from friends and family or in austere or challenging environments. Through the ups and downs, it made me the person I am today and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

  8. How has your service and experiences intersected with your role as a social worker?

    *I’ll answer this one from the perspective of a human resources professional*

    Lowe’s is ranked as one of the most military friendly companies, so I get to interact with veterans and service members daily while talking to employees in the stores that I support. I am able to connect with them on a deeper level, provide a higher level of understanding when they have to miss work for drill or other training, and commiserate about our shared experiences. I am also able to provide a unique perspective to other leaders when we are discussing veteran recruiting programs, military appreciation events, and ways to best serve our military-affiliated customer base.

  9. Do you have a memory that you want to share?

    Wow – it’s hard to pick just one! I would say either the day my husband came home from his first deployment, or the day I came home from my deployment. Those days were true highlights because being safe and back home with my husband and family after being apart or worrying for so long was the absolute best feeling in the world.

  10. Is there anything you wish others knew about military service that you wish more people understood?

    Being in the military isn’t always how it is portrayed in movies and TV shows – spend some time with a veteran you know learning about their service and I think you’ll be surprised to learn what it is really like! No two people have the same experience, which is what makes the military such a diverse melting pot of people from different backgrounds and who bring unique experiences to the table.

Serving Those Who Have Served: Nina O’Brien, MSW '08

In the days leading up to Veterans Day 2019, we will highlight School of Social Work alumni, faculty and students who are veterans, those who have served in the military, and those whose current practice serves the needs of veterans. Thank you to all for your dedicated service.

    1. At what agency do you work and how long have you been in your current role?

      I am currently the Local Recovery Coordinator at VA Illiana. I have been in my role for 1 ½ years. Prior to working in my current position, I worked as a clinician in the VA’s PTSD Clinic for 5 years.

    2. What brought you to work with veterans?

      Several things brought me to the VA: My husband is a Veteran of the Navy, and I have many family members who are Veterans.  I also became interested early in my career in working with survivors of trauma. The VA is on the cutting edge of research and provision of evidence-based therapies for PTSD and other mental health issues. Working at the VA felt like a natural fit as a way to give back to those who have served. And of course, the VA system provides good benefits, pay, and opportunities for growth.

    3. Tell us about your role at your agency and how it serves veterans.

      Every VA in the country has a Local Recovery Coordinator (LRC). The LRC is designated as a champion for recovery-oriented mental health care.  The role is a combination of direct clinical work, administration, and community outreach.  Some of my time is spent providing education and consultation to VA mental health programs to ensure recovery-oriented care for Veterans.  Another portion is spent doing outreach and acting as a liaison between the VA and community mental health agencies.  Another portion is spent doing direct service with Veterans. In my case, that means providing  individual and group therapy.

    4. What is one thing you have learned in working with veterans that is unique to other populations.

      My work with Veterans has taught me so much!  Military culture is so unique, and not something that I learned about in school.  Working at the VA has taught me that when we use the word “Veteran” to describe someone, we must consider how each Veteran’s experience can vary so widely; how each individual’s identity has been shaped by their own specific branch of the military, battalion, unit, era of service, and military operating specialty.  Veteran culture is complex, and we as social workers must take the time to learn how military service has uniquely impacted each individual person who has “bourne the battle”.

    5. Are there any resources or referral sources that you would like to share to better equip us to work with veterans in our local communities?

      Yes!!  The VA has so many resources to offer for providers working in with Veterans in the community.

Here are just a few:

    • Veteran’s Crisis Line:
      1-800-273-8255, press 1 for VeteranVCL is a free, confidential hotline for Veterans or their friends or family members that is staffed 24/7 by MH professionals. Veterans can call, text, or chat in real time.Website: www.VeteransCrisisLine.net
    • VA Community Provider Toolkit:The Community Provider Toolkit links community providers with info and resources relevant to Veteran health and well-being. Resources available in the toolkit include info on screening for military service, handouts and trainings to increase understanding of military culture, and mini clinics focused on relevant aspects of behavioral health and wellness. The site was designed and informed by VA clinicians and staff at the national center for PTSD and OMHSP, as well as other public and private agencies to support all providers working with vets.Toolkit: www.mentalhealth.va.gov/communityproviders
    • The Rocky Mountain MIRECC Suicide Risk Management Consultation Program:Offers free, one-on-one consultation for any provider (community as well as VA) who works with Veterans. During the consultation process, Consultants provide concrete tools as well as encouragement that help ease anxiety and increase provider confidence. They will collaboratively conceptualize the issues and offer recommendations/answers. Any question related to suicide prevention and Veterans is fair game. Their slogan is “Never Worry Alone.”Website: https://www.mirecc.va.gov/visn19/consult/
    • PTSD Consultation Program:The PTSD Consultation Program was created in 2011 to provide information, resources, and consultation to health professionals who are treating Veterans with PTSD.  The PTSD Consultation Program was expanded in 2015 and now offers the same array of services to community providers who treat Veterans. Consultants are just a phone call or email away. The program’s goal is to ensure high quality PTSD care is available to Veterans regardless of where they choose to seek treatment by connecting users with experienced psychologists, psychiatrists, pharmacists and other health professionals with expertise in treating PTSD in Veterans.Website: www.ptsd.va.gov/consult
    • Make the Connection:Make the Connection is an online video library, where Veterans can search by era, branch of military, combat experience, and gender, and watch Veterans and their family members share real stories of strength and recovery, find useful information , and local MH resources.  Consider screening a video highlighting one of many great stories about recovery.Website:  https://maketheconnection.net/
    • Coaching Into Care:Coaching Into Care is a National VA Call Center for family members and friends of Veterans wanting to get a Veteran into care. Their goal is to help Veterans, their family and loved ones find the appropriate services at their local VA or in the community.Website: www.va.gov/coachingintocare or call 1-888-823-7458

Honoring Those Who Served: Arnie Marks, MSW ’66

In the days leading up to Veterans Day 2019, we will highlight School of Social Work alumni, faculty and students who are veterans, those who have served in the military, and those whose current practice serves the needs of veterans. Thank you to all for your dedicated service.

  1. What branch of service did you serve in?

    I served as a Medical Service Corps Officer in the United States Army from 1966-1969.

  2. What got you through basic training?

    Basic Training for Officers was more like “charm school” rather than intense basic combat training. We were taught about chain of command, role of an officer, mission focus, etc.

  3. Where were you stationed while in the service?

    I was stationed at William Beaumont Hospital and Ft. Bliss, in El Paso, Texas.

  4. Can you describe your experience of military culture in one word?

    Idiosyncratic

  5. What are some recommendations that you would give to our fellow social workers who are providing services to former or current military personnel?

    My advice to fellow social workers is understanding the unique and idiosyncratic nature of military culture. I recommend familiarizing yourself with military culture, values, mores, etc. There is also a unique stigma about accepting mental health support in the military culture which is focused upon, “pulling yourself up by your OWN bootstraps.”

  6. If applicable, what did you go on to do as a career after your service?

    I spent my career in mental health, and for the past 10 years I was a consultant for our Department of Defense, serving active duty warriors in all branches of service on military bases.

  7. How did your service and experiences affect your life?

    My military service amplified leadership, which subsequently translated into management in the civilian sector. In addition, as a new social worker at the time, I was given tremendous responsibility initially because of my rank and responsibility far beyond what my responsibilities might have been in the civilian world.

  8. How has your service and experiences intersected with your role as a social worker?

    My early military experience prepared me extremely well for responsibilities in the civilian world. Particularly important was a very early exposure to the breadth of clinical practice. In addition, I learned to work in a multi-disciplinary environment, including Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry, Neurology, and Vocational Rehabilitation.

  9. Do you have a memory that you want to share?

    Not so much a memory, but a later realization of my early military experience that exposed me to the reality of a condition that was NOT labeled in the late 60’s that was known as an adjustment disorder, but later became known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In addition, the DSM V, now lists PTSD as a Trauma and Stressor Condition, rather than an anxiety disorder, which helps warriors understand and accept the diagnosis more readily as an injury as a result of their combat experience rather than a character limitation or weakness.

  10. Is there anything you wish others knew about military service that you wish more people understood?

    The one issue that I wish more social workers would understand, is the unique and idiosyncratic nature of military service. Military personnel in general do not trust, have confidence in, or often feel stigmatized by mental health services. Knowing the culture, appreciating the values, recognizing the unique language, traditions, and mission focus would go a long way in helping civilian social workers make a connection with both active duty service members as well as veterans.

Honoring Those Who Served: Julie Muñoz-Nájar, MSW '08

In the days leading up to Veterans Day 2019, we will highlight School of Social Work alumni, faculty and students who are veterans, those who have served in the military, and those whose current practice serves the needs of veterans. Thank you to all for your dedicated service.

    1. What branch of service did you serve in?

      I was in the Illinois Air National Guard, which is a part of the US Air Force.

    2. What got you through basic training?

      Thursdays. That’s when the chow hall served vegetarian lasagna – that I had to consume in 2.2 minutes.  In all seriousness, I had an amazing boyfriend (now husband) and mother (still my mom) who wrote to me every day.  I wanted to hear about the mundane things going on in their lives just to have some normalcy during basic.

    3. Where were you stationed while in the service?

      I was primarily stationed in Springfield, IL and did drill service once a month.  During my six and a half years, I had great opportunities to travel to several US states, to Italy, Germany and England for training and was also deployed to United Arab Emirates during the OEF/OIF conflict.

    4. Can you describe your experience of military culture in one word?

      Growth.

    5. What are some recommendations that you would give to our fellow social workers who are providing services to former or current military personnel?

      I would recommend that they take the time to learn the military lingo.  Ask questions when a Vet uses an acronym so you can better understand their experience because you may lose a lot of context if you don’t know what that acronym really means.  There are good CEU courses that help you learn the lingo and culture of all the branches, which are quite different.

    6. If applicable, what did you go on to do as a career after your service?

      I finished my military contract shortly after I came back from deployment.  The day after my C-130 landed back in the states, I was sitting in my MSW classes, which was a total whirlwind of transition back to civilian life.  Most recently, I have had the pleasure of working here at the SSW as a Clinical Assistant Professor helping some amazing students explore their career goals through the field office.  I’ve had an eclectic career since my MSW graduation working on start-up projects focused on community engagement and advocacy.

    7. How did your service and experiences affect your life?

      One of my biggest takeaways was learning how to be a leader in a male dominated world.  Comradery is so cliché, but so incredibly true as you learn to live, sleep, work, repeat, in very stressful situations together 24/7. You learn a lot about yourself and about your fellow humans who are all trying to get through this life too.

    8. How has your service and experiences intersected with your role as a social worker?

      I came from a community where there was very little diversity of all forms.  Being in the military is like moving to a cosmopolitan community overnight and being asked to not just tolerate each other but work in harmony.  Those learning opportunities with my fellow comrades taught me that this world is much bigger than I imagined, but we are all one kind – humankind.

    9. Do you have a memory that you want to share?

      While I was at basic, we were doing tactical drills to maneuver through various structures using hand signals to communicate to our teammate about how and where to move to avoid being seen by our drill sergeants. During one of the drills, I was leading our group to a new location and I laid down on a small hill to get a better view.  Within seconds, I realized I had landed in a massive Texas red anthill and they immediately started stinging me on my arms and hands. Needless to say, my fellow airmen were very confused on which hand gestures I was making.  Mother Nature had a different “drill” she wanted to play that day.

    10. Is there anything you wish others knew about military service that you wish more people understood?

      When starting a conversation with someone who identifies as a Veteran, try asking an open-ended question like this question, #2 or #7 vs the common one, “Where did you serve?”.  The open-ended questions lead to better understanding, engagement and awareness of their lived-experience in the military, which in turn leads to better advocacy on all of our parts.