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MSW Online, PTSD, Homeless Vets, Trinidad and Tobago

The University of XXXX online MSW Program is my first choice for earning my Master’s in Social Work Degree primarily because of its sheer excellence. In addition, the finest social workers that I have had the opportunity to work with professionally have all graduated from UXX and they could not speak more highly of the experience.

After being a woman, being a black person is probably the most salient single aspect of my identity. My color is interrelated with my immigrant experience, making the USA my home after coming here from my native Trinidad and Tobago on an athletic scholarship. Falling in love with the diversity and opportunity of America, I stayed and I am now a US citizen. Over the course of the past several years, I have become established in XXXX, NC where I plan to remain, probably for the balance of my professional life because I love the community, and the percentage of members of the military and veterans - my target population - is very high.

The social justice issue with which I am most concerned is justice for our soldiers and our veterans, especially those who are victimized by abuse, both on active duty and beyond. I greatly admire the cultural diversity and racial equality that exists in the military, especially as a woman of color. The primary threat to human dignity that concerns me in this context is when treatment is not equal and fair, for people of different races, but even more importantly for me given my interest in sexual issues in the military, with respect to women, who make up the overwhelming majority of victims of sexual violence and abuse, in the military as elsewhere.

I earned an MBA with a 4.0 GPA and my academic and professional background is in Marketing and Human Resource Management; my greatest passion is caring for the homeless. For years now, I have been engaged in the struggle to help those who find themselves homeless here in North Carolina to find adequate shelter and new beginnings. Particularly as a result of the experience of working abroad for the US Army as a civilian contractor, I have long cultivated a profound connection to our Armed Forces and I am passionate about meeting the special needs of our veterans – particularly those who find themselves homeless.

After coming to America at 19, I began my undergraduate studies and also worked in sales for Bellsouth and Lanier for a few years before marrying my college sweet heart. He subsequently entered the military and we were soon stationed in Germany. I was very active in the foreign born spouses group, helping many spouses to navigate hurdles and, most of all, better understand American culture. I helped many spouses with resume writing and job interviewing skills. I eventually landed a job as a Survival Outreach Specialist working with spouses who had lost their soldier at war. I helped them navigate through this difficult period choosing caskets, flags etc. I also helped them to apply for death benefits and to find employment when they were ready to build a new normal.

Though challenging, this work was very rewarding. While working as a SOS volunteer, I earned my MBA and also became a mother.  I gave birth to our daughter when we were stationed at Ft Bragg NC., about the time that my husband was selected for officer’s candidate school. Despite being a new mother, I soon became very active again as a volunteer with the Army spouses groups and worked with the chain of command at various levels in the implementation of Army Family Team Building and Army Family Action Plans. I was a delegate at to the annual conferences of both efforts in 2010 - bringing family issues to the top brass.

I was the wife first of a soldier and then a officer for a number of years before my marriage fell apart. When I found myself in need, to make a long story short, I found no help available. This was by far the most difficult time in my life as I struggled to protect myself and my daughter and to rebuild a new life for us. The same top brass that I was working for explained that nothing could be done about my husband’s physical and psychological abuse because he was an officer. Undaunted, I stood my ground and even wrote to Congress. With the support of a family advocate, I made the most difficult decision that I have ever made and filed a restraining order against my husband - in addition to filing for divorce. Throughout my ordeal, I was working with homeless women and children and cleaning buildings at night to support myself and my daughter.

This experience pointed me in the direction in which I hope to make my mark in life as an MSW professional, working with spouses and ex-spouses of soldiers, veterans, and their children. The military and America itself are for the most part one and the same in my mind and heart, given the fact that I have lived within a military culture throughout most of my time becoming an American. Now, as a US citizen, I still think in terms of the military culture and mindset that has formed so much of my adult and professional life.

I spend a lot of time reading the voluminous material that has been emerging in the area of PTSD. I am also well on my way to becoming quite knowledgeable about sexual addictions and the effects of pornography, particularly with respect to the military. My husband had mental health issues before he enlisted in the military, and throughout the course of his deployments, his mental health worsened. My interest in these issues, particularly PTSD, is a direct result of first attempting to love my husband and then working to distance myself and recover from his abuse. Now, PTSD and related mental issues in the military family has become my central focus.

My husband was an officer who was both psychologically and physically abusive. He crossed a distinct line for me when out daughter became a witness to the abuse; then I asked him to leave. I feel strongly that this experience will help me as an MSW professional to excel in your program in the area of military issues and also to help my clients for decades to come to deal with very difficult and very painful situations.

I want to earn the MSW Degree for two principal reasons: (1) I wish to spend the balance of my life providing direct counseling for women and children (with an emphasis on military spouses both current and ex) (2) I also want to have an impact on public policy formation, to have a voice in the development of community resources in such as way as to protect women and children who are victims of injustice and/or violence.  I feel strongly that by excelling as an MBA student I have demonstrated that I have the ability to think in creative, structural terms about the challenges faced by our society at local and state levels as well as with the Federal Government.

The dream I have about contributing to public policy debates is multi faceted. I want to engage US Military officials concerning the way in which a failure to adequately support the spouse or ex-spouse and children of soldiers who are abusive to or neglectful of their family members can cripple an entire family in more or less permanent ways that can include lasting scars on the children.  I am especially concerned with the way that problems with a soldier husband all too frequently results in homelessness for the non-military wife. We have learned all too well with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, that soldiers returning home from combat zones tend to arrive with PTSD; and a huge percentage of them take out their stress and disorientation on their spouses and children, especially the latter, allowing large numbers of victims to fall through the cracks of our society and pay the price for something that must ultimately be paid by all of us.

I currently serve as a case manager for 45 homeless veterans - the only case manager in my office without a social work degree. I help them to find housing and employment in addition to helping them to link up with the resources that are available to veterans. I serve as the chair of the Continuum of Care on Homelessness After numerous calls to HUD and seeking the advice of the county attorney I was able to put together a policy and procedure manual for our county. The COC facilitates the coordination of the community’s human services agencies and the community-at-large in addressing the needs of homeless people in Cumberland County who those who are at risk of becoming homeless. I am also an active member of the Boots to Suits organization helping soldiers successfully to civilian life. I also served on the Committee of Homeless and Hunger Stand-down in 2013 & 2014.

I volunteer at the XXXX Center as a small group mentor facilitating peer support for a family violence program located in XXXX County. Serving as Secretary for the Pastoral Council of St Ann Catholic Church is another highlight of my community service along with serving as a facilitator for the Divorce and Separation Survival Group at XXXX’s Catholic Church

I am certified as an Online Instructor by both the North Carolina Community College System’s Virtual Learning Community and Wake Technical Community College:– (2014). I coach track and field for XXXX County Parks and Recreation and I especially enjoy taking my divorce survival groups on field trips. I am an avid cook and beach lover.

I continue to work very hard at improving my Spanish conversational abilities because I see this as particularly important in social work. I can already make it through a conversation more or less because I lived in South Miami for a while after college and had many friends willing to practice with me.

I thank you for consideration of my application to the University of XXXX.

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