Social Work with Combat Veterans Certificate


Certificate Programs > Combat Veterans Combat Veterans Course Flyer

Designed for people interested in working with veterans who have been exposed to the trauma of war or military conflict, the Social Work with Combat Veterans Certificate Program includes an option for current MSW students, and one for Human Services Professionals with a minimum of a bachelors degree in a human services field.

The first course in the certificate program focuses on the military cycle from enlistment, basic training, the experience of war, and post-war challenges. The second course focuses on the societal response to war and historical treatment of those returning from war, with an emphasis on improving policies and programs to better meet their needs. The third course focuses on intervention models that have shown to be effective in helping veterans overcome moral injury and the trauma of war.

All three courses are online and accessible to both Clinical and OCL students and human services professionals with a minimum of a bachelors degree in a human services field.

FAQs (Click a question to expand)

Does the content covered in this certificate apply to all veterans?

Yes! Most of the content covered in this certificate program applies to ALL veterans, such as military history and culture, reasons for enlisting (or the experience of being drafted), the purpose and rationale of basic training, military masculinity (which impacts both men and women), mental health stigma, and military sexual trauma.

Also covered are the common challenges experienced when transitioning out of the military, such as underemployment/unemployment, poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and impact on the family (partner, children, etc.), all of which play a role in the current veteran suicide rate.

Students also learn about the system of care available to veterans, including the VA, Vet Centers, and non-profit organizations working to address the veteran suicide epidemic.

Why do we focus on COMBAT veterans?

The certificate program focuses on complex trauma, with combat being just one layer of this. Students learn about pre-military trauma (ACEs) and the role it plays in enlistment1 and post-deployment adjustment, including depression and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS)2, as well as suicidal thoughts and attempts3.

Combat exposure in and of itself doesn’t lead to suicide, but combat exposure does increase risk for PTS, depression, and substance abuse4, as well as moral injury5, all of which increase suicide risk.

A 2015 meta-analysis found that exposure to killing and other war atrocities corresponded to a 43% increased risk for suicidal behavior, which included ideation, attempts, and death6.

Combat trauma can result in multiple types of injuries, such as Traumatic Brain Injury, PTS, and moral injury. Students in this certificate program explore these injuries, how they impact the brain in different ways, how they are often overlapping, and how they each require different therapeutic approaches.

While the factors contributing to veteran suicide are complex, and not all veterans who die by suicide have experienced combat, we spend a great deal of time exploring combat trauma, as the experience of combat is far removed from what most civilians know and understand.

In order to bridge this divide between combat veterans and human service professionals, it is important for them to hear these veterans’ stories with an open mind and open heart as they develop a deeper understanding and empathy for what combat veterans have experienced.

1Blosnich, J. R., Dichter, M. E., Cerulli, C., Batten, S. V., & Bossarte, R. M. (2014). Disparities in Adverse Childhood Experiences among individuals with a history of military service. JAMA Psychiatry, 71(9), 1041-1048. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.724

2Cabrera, O. A., Hoge, C. W., Bliese, P. D., Castro, C. A., & Messer, S. C. (2007). Childhood adversity and combat as predictors of depression and post-traumatic stress i deployed troops. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33(2), 77-82. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2007.03.019

3Carroll, T. D., Currier, J. M., McCormick, W. H., Drescher, K. D. (2017), Adverse Childhood Experiences and risk for suicidal behavior in male Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking PTSD treatment. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 9(5), 583-586.

4National Center for PTSD. (n.d.) Combat exposure. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/types/combat_exposure.asp

5National Center for PTSD. (n.d.). Moral injury in the context of war. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/cooccurring/moral_injury.asp#...

6Bryan, C. J., Griffith, J. E., Pace, B. T., Hunkson, K., O’Bryan, A. O., Clemans, T. A., & Imel, Z. E. (2015). Combat exposure and risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors among military personnel and veterans: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 45(5), 633-649. Doi: 10.1111/sltb.12163

Who are the veterans involved in the certificate program?

Veterans who served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq have shared their stories for Embracing the Stories of War. Students also learn from veterans who served in the Korean War and Gulf War, as well as those who served in the military in other countries. These veterans represent men and women, commissioned and non-commissioned service members, those who enlisted and those who were drafted, as well as those who served active duty across various branches and in the National Guard.

Tina Blaschke-Thompson and Glenn Stutzky receiving award for Combat Veterans Course
Tina Blaschke-Thompson and Glenn Stutzky received the SAGE/CSWE award for Innovative Teaching in Social Work for SW491.

Current MSW Students

Program Components

The Social Work with Combat Veterans Certificate Program requires satisfactory completion of the following:

  • SW 491 (2 credits, full summer session): Embracing the Stories of War
  • SW 891 (2 credits, fall of advanced concentration year): Sharing the Burden of War
  • SW 891 (2 credits, spring of advanced concentration year): Healing the Wounds of War

Note: Students are required to take these three classes in the order outlined above, as each course leads into the next. Taking these courses out of order will result in important foundational content being missed.

Specialized field placement related to military social work in the advanced concentration year.

Combat Vets AT&T Award
SW 491 earned the Honorable Mention Award of Excellence sponsored by AT&T

Participation in specialized liaison group to support professional networking and address gaps in service provision through sharing of ideas and resources (accessible via online meeting space).

Acceptance into MSW Certificate Program

Acceptance into the Combat Veterans Certificate Program is highly competitive, as there are limited veteran-related placement opportunities in the state. As such, interested students should prepare a thoughtful personal statement about why they would like to work with this population and how this certificate program will support their future career aspirations. Acceptance into this certificate program will be based on this personal statement, as well as field placement opportunities in students’ area of the state.

Contact Person

Tina Blaschke-Thompson, LMSW
blaschke@msu.edu

Download the application

Non-Credit for Human Services Professionals

Already work with this population? Not a current MSU student? Want to learn more? Apply to the non-credit certificate option!

Designed to meet the needs of service providers in the field, the non-credit certificate option allows those with a minimum of a bachelors degree in a human service related field and an interest in learning more about combat veterans an opportunity to complete this coursework alongside registered MSU students - same classes, same experience, lower cost! Each class costs $500, plus the cost of course materials. You can take just the first class, or all three but they must be taken sequentially! Please note that all 3 courses are required for the full certificate.

Program Components

The Social Work with Combat Veterans Certificate Program requires satisfactory completion of the following:

  • Summer 2019: Embracing the Stories of War
  • Fall 2019: Sharing the Burden of War
  • Spring 2020: Healing the Wounds of War

Note: Students are required to take these three classes in the order outlined above, as each course leads into the next. Taking these courses out of order will result in important foundational content being missed. You will receive a Certificate of Course Completion for each course but all 3 courses are required for the full Combat Veterans Certificate Program.

To apply, please complete the non-credit registration application. If accepted, you will receive information on registration and purchasing the necessary course materials. In the case that you have enrolled but are not accepted or qualified for the course, a full refund will be issued.

Please note: CEUs are not available through completion of the non-credit certificate program.

Contact Person

Tina Blaschke-Thompson, LMSW
blaschke@msu.edu

Apply Now!

"The Combat Veterans Certification program has significantly enhanced my ability to treat combat veterans, by highlighting the impact of moral injury on our returning troops. The material is comprehensive and challenging, yet, the course is designed to present the material in ways that promote the learning process. This course is a must for anyone working with combat veterans. My hope is that more universities/colleges will use this model to develop similar programs to better address the needs of this deserving population." ~Rosie Spagnuolo Bickert, LMSW, ACSW