How Are Military Social Workers Trained?

how-are-military-social-workers-trainedEvery military branch offers unique training for Military Social Workers. Read on to learn more about this distinct field of human services and how to become a military social worker.

What is Military Social Work?

Military social work is a particular field of social work practice that provides various social services to military personnel, veterans, retirees and their spouses and dependents. In order to best serve their clients, military social workers must receive advanced training that will allow them to meet the distinctive needs of their clients. Because the military is an exclusive subculture, military social workers must clearly understand their client's roles and responsibilities within their specific military branch. For example, military social workers should be familiar with the UCMJ, as well as be sensitive to the official chain of command process.

Army Social Workers

Military social workers are trained according to their branch's unique program. For example, the position of an Army social worker, 73A, is an entry-level officer job that is open to women and Army Reserve members. Army social workers are commissioned officers that belong to the Medical Service Corps.

The Army requires that their social workers have a master's degree in the field of social work from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). They must also have a current and unrestricted license. Many Army social workers receive their training through an accredited civilian university and then participate in Advanced Individual Training (AIT) through the Army's Medical Service Corps.

Navy Social Workers

Navy social workers are required to have at least two years of post-master's degree supervised clinical experience in social work. Navy social workers must commit to serve at least three years of Active Duty. Like the Army, Navy social workers must also have a current practicing license and a master of social work (MSW) degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program.

Resource: Top 25 MSW Online Programs

The Navy prefers candidates who have leadership experience and hands-on experience working in inpatient and outpatient mental health services. This could be experience with case management or domestic violence prevention. Navy social workers attend a five-week Officer Development School (ODS) in Rhode Island that involves a comprehensive program to prepare them for military social work service.

What Do Military Social Workers Do?

Similar to licensed clinical workers, a military social worker's job duties includes providing various human services, such as mental health counseling and crisis intervention, as well as planning and implementing helpful programs for veterans, military members and their families. Some military social workers will conduct scientific research on military-based social issues and attempt to create possible solutions. Other military social workers, like medical social workers, will be assigned to military health care organizations. A large portion of military social workers work within the field of mental health therapy and provide services to service members suffering from personal, emotional and psychological problems. Because current and former military members are much more likely to develop PSTD, many military social workers help their clients deal with their past traumatic experiences in order to regain basic functioning.

Many military social workers earn their degree and license in the civilian world and then transition into military service as an officer. Every military branch offers excellent training for Military Social Workers.