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Wurzweiler Certificate Program to Help Treat Returning Veterans and their Families

This fall, Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work is offering a new Certificate in Social Work Practice with the Military.

Dr. Joan Beder will oversee the new certificate program.

American military engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq has lasted more than a decade, and advances in medical technology and Kevlar armor have led to unprecedented numbers of soldiers surviving battle wounds to return to civilian life in the United States. Many must learn to adapt to a life with physical injuries or disabilities, while an estimated 20 percent of returning service members are diagnosed with major mental health problems. This has created an overwhelming strain on Department of Defense hospitals and Veterans Affairs facilities, which soldiers typically turn to for care.

Wurzweiler hopes to relieve some of that burden by equipping its graduates to treat veterans in their agencies as well as in outpatient mental health settings and private practices.

“The goal of Wurzweiler’s Certificate in Social Work Practice with the Military is to highlight the specialized knowledge, skills and values associated with working with soldiers in the military, returning veterans and their families,” said Dr. Carmen Ortiz Hendricks, dean of Wurzweiler. “We want to educate and train social work students who will be capable of addressing the unique physical and mental challenges, as well as transitional needs, of this population.”

Students in the certificate program will take three elective courses and conduct supervised field work in an agency that serves the military, such as VAs, Vet Centers and Family Readiness facilities. Courses such as “Social Work Practice with the Military,” “Coping with Loss,” “Trauma and Interpersonal Violence,” and “Clinical Practice with the Military Family,” are designed to familiarize students with prominent issues and approaches to care, including emphases on topics such as the culture of the military, the impact of war on soldiers and their families, post-traumatic stress disorder, and coping with loss of limbs, among others.

“We see numbers and parades, but most of us have no idea what soldiers or their loved ones go through,” said Dr. Joan Beder, professor of social work at Wurzweiler. Beder developed the school’s “Social Work Practice with the Military” course and will oversee the certificate program. “We also have difficulty grasping the ripple effects of someone engaged in war. At Wurzweiler, we are at the forefront of this field, training social service workers who can understand the complete gamut of experiences that men and women have in the military.”

The Certificate in Social Work Practice with the Military is one of four offered at Wurzweiler. Students can also pursue specialties in Jewish communal work, gerontology and child welfare.

To learn more, visit www.yu.edu/wurzweiler.