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Military Personnel and Veterans, First Responders, and Their Families and Communities

Chair: Kari Fletcher (St. Catherine University-University of St. Thomas)
APM Assignment: 2019–2021

Co-chair: Melissa Hirschi (University of Memphis)
APM Assignment: 2019–2021

The Military Personnel and Veterans, First Responders, and their Families and Communities Track promotes clinical, educational, policy, and scientific discussions as it relates to micro, mezzo, and macro social work practice and its applications to these populations.

Military personnel and first responders may operate in specific occupational environments that involve routine exposure to situations that may be stressful and traumatic. These situations may reflect an array of routine risks associated with serving in the military and its evolving operational environment, as well as responding to car accidents, interpersonal violence, exacerbations of chronic illness, substance abuse/dependence, etc. These exposures may be compounded by existing psychosocial needs (e.g., behavioral health, childhood trauma) including intersectionality (e.g., gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation). Military personnel and first responders may also experience juxtaposition whereby skills in their professions may present as challenging when interfacing outside of their primary duties. Veterans and military families experience unique strengths, challenges, and opportunities, including support networks, maintaining different roles, navigating person-in-environment, and self-care.

These populations have distinct organizational and operational factors related to their missions that   oftentimes necessitate and result in very different services and policies. Communities may face challenges with provision of services (e.g., perceived stigma for some that may be associated with help seeking that may be reinforced by agencies or policies) and understanding of related policies (e.g., complications in maintaining ethics as it pertains to privacy/confidentiality) in order to work effectively with these populations.

This Track aims to enhance the quality of social work education for a professional practice contributing to individual, family, and community well-being, as well as understanding, supporting, and embracing the unique and necessary differences in social and economic justice among military personnel and veterans, first responders, and their families, organizations and communities.