“Now is the time for social work” is the theme for Social Work Awareness Month 2022. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work is the fastest growing profession in the country with more than 720,000 social workers in the United States. At the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, social workers are found at the hospital, at Army community service, and support military children at local schools.
At Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, social workers play a central role in the behavioral health department, patient-centered medical home, and troop clinics across the facility.
Capt. Scott Saucer, Certified Clinical Social Worker with the Integrated Behavioral Health Clinic, is a former tank commander who earned a master’s degree in social work after completing his first active duty duty.
“I became a social worker because I wanted to help people, I specifically wanted to serve veterans,” he said. “After going through some of the challenges that our service men and women face, I felt I could connect with them because I’ve been where they’ve been and seen some of the same things as them.”
Saucer said while in command, the biggest complaint he heard from his troops was that soldiers could not identify with behavioral health providers. He hopes that with his background, he can get the soldiers to open up to him.
“Behavioral health is like any other service, if you need it that’s what it’s there for,” he said. “If you had a broken bone, you would go to the doctor. If you need help with an emotional or behavioral problem, why not ask someone who can help you? »
Saucer said there is no longer a stigma for active duty members seeking behavioral health services.
“The main job of social workers today is psychotherapy and counselling,” he said. “The army’s job is to defend our country and ultimately it’s my job to support the soldiers on the ground. I wear the same uniform, have the same experiences and badges as my patients and it helps me meet them where they are.
Saucer said holistic health and fitness has encouraged a new culture in the military that promotes overall well-being, mind, body, spirit, and the connection between lifestyle choices and the overall health.
BJACH Behavioral Health Certified Clinical Social Worker Chuck Satterfield said that becoming a social worker requires a lot of education; a bachelor’s, master’s and thousands of hours of supervision followed by a timed exam.
“I left the Marine Corps 30 years ago, back then there were no behavioral health services that I can remember,” he said. “I have seen a huge change in the army. Life happens no matter what branch of service a person joins. We all have problems, we all have a story and we all come from something. In order to ensure that we are ready for the mission, service members must be emotionally and mentally ready.
Satterfield said raising awareness of the social work field is important because it is often misunderstood.
“A lot of people think social workers are just taking children away from their families. They think we are baby stealers,” he said. “People don’t understand that the field of social work is so vast. A real social worker is not trying to take your children but rather is there to help you have better coping strategies and provide you with resources that will help you take care of your children to have a better quality of life. .
Takenya Jones-Stewart, Acting Director of Clinical Care for Substance Use Disorders at BJACH, dedicates her time to people struggling with substance abuse.
According to army.mil, the Army’s Substance Use Disorder Clinical Care Program (SUDCC) uses a multidisciplinary approach to treat and provide soldiers, family members and Army civilians with the resources and support they need to overcome the challenges of illicit drug use, prescription medication and alcohol abuse.
“I started my career in social work because of personal experiences and a tragedy related to substance abuse,” she said. “Substance use will affect readiness. Most people think they’re in control, that it’s not as bad as it is, but this program allows us to give soldiers insight into the seriousness of the situation and how it may affect their personal and professional life.
Ethan Nicholas, a licensed clinical social worker and substance abuse counselor with the BJACH SUDCC program, said he chose the field of social work after an undergraduate summer internship and during his first job as an addictions specialist. intervention and work coach within the school system.
“Our profession is very misunderstood,” he said. “We work with the justice systems, in hospitals, in group homes and with family members. In interacting with other organizations in the community, I find that we often have to break down exactly what we do. »
Nicholas said becoming a social worker is a calling and requires internal motivation, an innate ability to reach people and build relationships.
“One of my main duties at BJACH is to facilitate group counseling sessions,” he said. “The interesting part of the group is that each group has its own personality and over time you will see people coming out of their shells within the group. It’s amazing to see the band come together with a family connection.
Nicholas said group counseling is important because it forces individuals to work with others as they would in their day-to-day life. He said they have discussions and hear different perspectives from their peers instead of just advisors, which can be extremely powerful and beneficial.
Not all social workers work in a medical setting. At ACS, social workers support soldiers and their families through the Family Advocacy Program. Some of the things they do are victim advocacy, the exceptional family member program, and support for new parents.
Heather Hoosier, a licensed clinical social worker, is a home visitor with the New Parent Support Program. She said she became a social worker because there weren’t a lot of math or science credits required during her undergrad, but she stayed in the field because of her flexibility and of its diversity.
“I think we spend a lot of our time as social workers convincing families that we’re not there to judge them or report anything about them,” she said. “We are here to work with them to avoid such situations. Social work is often an underrated profession, but there are inherent rewards. Honestly, I didn’t even know what social work was when I started college, but I fell in love with the flexibility of meeting people where they are.
Christina Barrett, Certified Master Social Worker, is the Exceptional Family Member Program System Navigator at ACS.
“I do non-clinical social work for military families,” she said. “I don’t do therapy. I provide them with education, information, and resources to help them understand a new diagnosis and the assessments they are given for a variety of medical conditions.
Barrett said she was able to help families ease their fears, navigate through a multitude of resources, and advocate for a marginalized group within our community.
“I can provide families with the tools, resources and education to work with their children,” she said. “I chose social work because it is a flexible career with a wide variety of professional options. As a military spouse, every time I move, I’m able to adapt to new positions and places because I have a broad understanding of all the different things I can do as a worker. social.
According to socialworkers.org, social workers are wherever people need help with life’s difficult challenges. They contribute to interdisciplinary care teams in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, nonprofits, businesses, and the military.
During Social Work Month 2022, take time to learn about the many positive contributions of the profession and celebrate the social workers who support soldiers and families at Fort Polk.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about social work as a profession during Social Work Awareness Month, see the public service announcement created by BJACH PAO at: