Why Military Social Work?
“War is Hell” is a common phrase, tracing at least as far back as William Tecumseh Sherman, a Union Army General during the American Civil War. Although General Sherman was likely referring to the carnage he witnessed on the battlefield, the agony of war is something active servicemen and veterans don’t leave on the front line but torturously carry with them even after returning home.
The weight of their experiences in the field may cause soldiers to suffer from a host of mental health issues, many of which have dire consequences if left untreated.
- Though veterans represent less than eight percent of the American population, they make up 20 percent of the 30,000 annual suicides in the United States.
- A new study reveals that the rates of suicide among young female veterans is nearly three times higher than their civilian counterparts. And another study has shown that more soldiers have killed themselves than in combat in 2010.
- Nearly 40 percent of soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have sought treatment for Post Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental-health issues.
- Furthermore, mental health issues aren't constrained to those Americans who have served, but may also extend to their families. Seeking treatment for mood, anxiety and adjustment disorders was 11 times more likely for children separated from their deployed parents.
With their knowledge of the general conventions of mental health service and of the specific challenges faced by military personnel, military social workers are in a unique position to help distressed U.S. soldiers and their families. Through counseling, organization and research, military social workers can ensure that American soldiers who fight for their country overseas don’t have to fight their demons alone at home.