LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. --
Student interns from the Masters of Social Work program at the University of Southern California are taking advantage of an opportunity to gain invaluable experience as they provide services and referrals to active-duty military and their families.
John Howard, Dejha Harris, and Jason Woodrum from the USC Adults and Healthy Aging Department, and Rebecca Dardon from the USC Community, Organization, Planning and Administration Department were all welcomed by Mark Maxfield, 61st Force Support Squadron director, Patricia Brown, Airman & Family Services Flight chief and Cathy Howard, Airman and Family Readiness Center director during an introductory reception Sept. 9 hosted in the A&FRC.
"Los Angeles AFB provides a unique local opportunity for USC's specialized military and veteran's social work sub-concentration students to gain valuable training by interacting directly with active-duty, veterans and their families," explained Maxfield.
USC's optional military curriculum prepares students to support military members and their families as they face numerous challenges, to include transitions and deployments. According to Maxfield, many veterans suffer serious mental health disorders ranging from post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression, which could lead to substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and suicide. Military spouses and children can also experience traumatic stress during deployments and reunions.
"The military social work program curriculum provided by USC will help prepare graduates to treat combat-related mental health issues, better understand military culture and improve the overall health and well-being of veterans, their families and communities," said Maxfield.
In 2013, Dr. Michael Johnson, from USC's School of Social Work, reached out to Ms. Ida Humphrey, 61st FSS' School Liaison Officer, Ms. Brown at the A&FSF and Ms. Howard at the A&FRC to explore collaborating between USC and Los Angeles AFB to provide services and referrals to military personnel, veterans and their families.
"This opportunity not only provides an understanding of military culture and the commitment that is made by the men and women of the armed forces as well as the sacrifices of their families, but it also gives the USC School of Social Work an opportunity to give back to this great community of Americans," said Johnson.
After several years of working through agreements and other logistical hurdles, the interns are finally approved to perform their eight-month internship which incorporates curriculum classroom learning, guidance from a licensed instructor and field experience at Los Angeles AFB.
"The USC program at Los Angeles AFB will play a critical role in preparing future graduates for contemporary clinical issues in their chosen profession," Maxfield stated.
The interns are under the clinical supervision of retired Army Maj. Dedra Fulcher, a licensed clinical social worker and registered nurse working as a USC external field instructor.
For more information on the USC School of Social Work, visit https://sowkweb.usc.edu/master-of-social-work/msw-degree/field-education