Military Social Work and Veteran Services
Many war veterans suffer serious mental health disorders ranging from post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression, which can lead to substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and suicide. This specialized area of study prepares individuals to provide a full range of human services to the nation's military personnel, veterans and their families, helping them cope with the stresses of military life.
The military sub-concentration – which can be integrated with any of the three major concentration areas offered through the Virtual Academic Center – provides a range of placement options for students interested in learning more about working with military personnel, military retirees, spouses and other military dependents. Students will complete 550 clock hours of an internship in various types of approved settings working with military or veteran populations. Practicum sites are based on the availability of the agency to accept a student and a field instructor to provide supervision; therefore, no guarantees are extended to students on a specific type of agency that would be arranged. Please note that only students residing on base are candidates for placement on base.
The school’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families is collaborating with the USC Institute for Creative Technologies on a new virtual reality module that will expand the ability of educators to train future military social workers. The virtual patient is an avatar-based simulation program designed to replicate the experiences of veterans exposed to combat stress and help prepare students to interact with real clients. The program is the first application of virtual reality in a social work setting and is expected to be used in USC School of Social Work classrooms in the near future. Students may also find opportunities to participate in the center’s research initiatives that serve veterans and military families.
642 Military Culture and the Workplace Environment
Students will examine the military from a variety of perspectives, including its background and organization, social systems, core values and traditions (norms for personal, familial, and social conduct; patterns of socialization; and gender roles), artifacts, language and socially acceptable practices.
641 Clinical Practice with Service Members and Veterans
This course addresses the needs of active duty, retired, and deployed servicemembers and veterans at different developmental phases of the military life course, both holistically and within the context of their families and communities. Military social work students will be prepared to facilitate clients with a range of physical, mental and psychosocial issues and understand their individual ways of coping. Students will learn to identify these concerns, along with the risk and protective factors associated with navigating deployment and combat stressors. Students will also learn to understand and apply evidence-based clinical approaches that address signature injuries. Managing transference/countertransference phenomena and attending to secondary trauma are central. Students will also learn to use the range of practice models in a phase-oriented approach that values the therapeutic relationship, cultural responsiveness and theoretical grounding.
640 Clinical Practice with the Military Family: Understanding and Intervening
The purpose of this course is to understand the military culture within which military families function; the stressors, such as deployment, they navigate; the diversity of military family structures; and how a range of diversity filters can impact the military family and military culture. Students will explore the different military contexts (i.e., active duty, guard/reserve and veteran), ethical issues of working in this environment, theory-based and research-informed strategies for interventions with military families, as well as critique military family policies and discuss family life cycle interactions amidst military demands.
- Master of Social Work