GSSWSR Professor Works to Help Mental Health Care Providers Understand Challenges Facing U.S. Service Members

Posted April 10th, 2014 at 10:43 am.

Paola Nogueras Nov 2008While there appears to be no evidence that the recent shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, had anything to do with combat-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), some media reports have highlighted this diagnosis and reinforced the stereotype of the dangerous, war-scarred veteran.

“Military service is an inherently stressful occupation, and for those service members who have deployed to combat, some having served multiple deployments during the last 12 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are real challenges associated with their reintegration back into community and family life.” says Graduate School of Social Work Professor Jim Martin, a retired Army colonel whose scholarship, teaching, and public service focus on military and veteran behavioral health issues.

Martin goes on to say:

“Our society often stigmatizes the mentally ill as dangerous, in particular those members of our veteran population challenged by symptoms of post-traumatic stress and/or mild traumatic brain injury.  The facts are that mentally ill individuals are not inherently dangerous and neither are our ‘wounded-warriors’ who may be experiencing the invisible wounds of war.

We need to acknowledge that whether or not this particular incident at Fort Hood was associated with any mental health issues, the vast majority of our service members and Veterans, even those carrying the residue of war, have and will continue to lead productive and successful lives.  For those who need mental health assistance, it is critical that the door is always open and that appropriate services are available.”

Martin recently participated in the planning and delivery of a four-day clinical training titled “Helping Vets Get Help.” Sponsored by the Philadelphia Council for Relationships, the training brought together more than 80 mental health professionals from the Tri-State area.

Recent courses taught by Martin have included: Clinical Social Work Methods I & II; and Stress & Trauma.

Martin’s 26-year-career in the Army Medical Department included clinical and research as well as senior management (command) and policy assignments. Martin was the senior social-work officer in the Persian Gulf Theater of operations during the first Gulf War and edited The Gulf War and Mental Health: A Comprehensive Guide.

The GSSWSR is one of the nation’s oldest academic social-work programs. The school provides a learning environment that is supportive and intellectually rigorous, encouraging critical thinking and the expression of social-work values through classes, field-based training, research, and active civic engagement in collaboration with the College as a whole.

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