Due to the nature of their work, service members and veterans have a unique need to see professionals trained in Military social work.
If you have a passion for helping others and would like to work directly with patients who have served or are serving in the military, choosing this specialty could be right up your alley. Social workers who work with military personnel may help patients who are dealing with emotional or psychological disorders that are common after fighting in war.
Specializing in military social works means you could work with active-duty service members and also with their civilian family members. Read on, and find out what skills and background you need to pursue a position in this sector.
Earn Your Bachelor's Degree
The very first step to working as a practicing social worker specializing in military clients is to earn your Bachelor's degree. You can choose a major that is relevant, but most will study for a degree in Counseling, Social Work or in Psychology.
Be sure to take your undergraduate studies seriously and do not forget the importance of choosing a an accredited program. Programmatic accreditation is vital when you are planning to later earn a graduate degree because your credits will only count if the schools curriculum meets the standards. Some of the most popular agencies are the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Education Programs (CACREP).
Enroll in a Specialized Master's Degree Program
When earning your Bachelor's, you are studying to build a foundation of knowledge that can be expanded on when earning a terminal graduate degree. This is why you will not take specialized or concentrated coursework until you go to grad school.
Resource: Top 25 Online MSW Programs
Social workers who are interested in working with military personnel as a civilian or even as an active-duty professional should consider earning their Master's in Social Work with a Concentration in Military Social Work. This is a unique MSW concentration because it helps students understand the culture of the military so that they can work with these special populations.
Get Experience and Get Credentialed
You will need to begin working with patients before you can get credentialed. To become an advanced practitioner with an Advanced Practice Specialty Credential for working with Military Service Members, Veterans, and Families, you will need a Master's degree and at last 3 years of clinical experience.
You can either pursue an active-duty position with a military branch or work as a civilian in a private practice setting, working solely with military clients. You will need to decide which which career path is most interesting to you, as you will receive military benefits as a service member but would also have the obligations.
Providing support and counseling to veterans, service members and their families can be extremely rewarding. It is an emotional setting that requires a professional trained to offer mental and emotional services that the average person cannot. Make sure to assess all of the options and then take the steps to work in Military Social Work.