USC School of Social Work Announces Initiative To Provide An Education At No Cost To Veterans

The University of Southern California School of Social Work launched today a new scholarship effort for veterans pursuing careers that will help other returning veterans. The program, Salute4Vets, will serve as both an online fund-raising initiative for the scholarships as well as a showcase of the school’s and community’s overwhelming support for returning veterans.

Many veterans are returning home with a range of challenges in their transition to civilian life. While some veterans must cope with combat-related stress disorders (e.g., post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury), the vast majority are navigating through daily life challenges—employment, housing, health care, education and relationships. Increasingly, social workers are the ones who diagnose and treat them, yet many do not have specialized training to understand the transition of civilian vs. military life.

“The nation faces a critical shortage of social workers qualified to care for veterans and their families,” said Kimberly Finney, clinical associate professor who chairs the school’s military social work program.  A retired U.S. Air Force officer and clinical psychologist, Finney knows the value of having culturally sensitive professionals. “Veterans have unique backgrounds and skillsets that can be leveraged in this field to facilitate interactions with other veterans and, ultimately, improve their lives.”

The Salute4Vets program aims to help veterans pursue a Master of Social Work degree and then a career that will enable them to provide the psychological and social support their fellow veterans need. Donations of any amount to support this effort can be made at www.Salute4Vets.org.  The community is also invited to post selfies of salutes on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) with the #Salute4Vets hashtag. Participants do not have to donate to post a selfie. Salute photos posted with #Salute4Vets hashtag will be featured on the website.

Through the School of Social Work, USC offers the largest national military social work program by a private research university. The Master of Social Work curriculum offers a specialization in military social work with advanced study in military culture and how it impacts service members, veterans and their families, with specific insight into their experiences, life stressors and values. The program is noted for its focus on evidence-based clinical practices, virtual reality technology and promising research-based mental health interventions. The school’s online MSW@USC program has become a great option for veterans across the country who may not be able to relocate to Southern California for their graduate studies. More than 65 percent of its enrollment comes from out of state.

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