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MSW, PTSD, Veterans, VA Hospital

1: Life Experiences: Growing up with an abusive and alcoholic father is probably the single most important reason why I have my heart set on becoming an MSW Professional. My profound suffering as a child and adolescent has given me a desire to help those who are in similar kinds of situations. As a child I pushed my mom to get a divorce and was always looking for adoption papers as a way out. I was the black sheep in my family and punished for speaking up. Nevertheless, I found the grit to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and I have worked very hard to survive my painful past, to recover. I now have a house, a degree, and have enjoyed steady employment for some time. I seek career change and personal as well as professional advancement. Thus, I have been preparing myself to apply to your MSW Program at XXXX University, my first choice for graduate school because of the sheer excellence of your program.

My recovery has been sporadic, gradual, and taken several years. I ended up pregnant in an abusive relationship with a drug addict in my 30s. Luckily, his addictions kept him out of the house for long periods of time. I took my national exams, obtained a professional license as a Certified Massage Therapist, and became financially independent, ending all contact with the father of my child. That situation put me in self preservation mode, especially since I now had a daughter. Thankfully, I was able to completely snap out of my own negative behaviors and co-dependencies and move on.

I now have a much greater appreciation for life and have come to terms with my past and my family. It helps to limit contact with them in order to do so. I am now a relatively happy person with a drama free life, always keeping things simple and straightforward. Now that my daughter is in her teens, I have the free time to return to school so that I can pursue the career that I find most fulfilling, Social Work.

Now 42 years old, I have only remembered for a little more than a decade the gruesome details of the abuse to which I was subjected as a child at the hands of my biological father: physical, emotional, sexual; constant and always violent, it continued for many years. By the time I reached my late 20s, the memories came flooding back in and it took me years to turn tragedy into triumph: to understand, reflect, and heal.

Thus far I have enjoyed success as a certified massage professional after earning my BA in Art, with an emphasis in painting and printmaking, from California State University, Chico in 2000. In 2002, I received my certificate from the XXXX Institute of Massage Studies in XXXX. This past January of 2016, I began serving as a volunteer working with girls who have been victims of sexual trafficking. This experience also steered me in the direction of becoming an MSW professional.

Thus, I am changing careers and going back to school so that I will be happy in a career for the next 20+ years, working with people who need help - the underdogs. Social Work is my dream job. Ending the cycle of abuse is important to me. I am not yet certain with what social group or population I will focus on, perhaps working with more than one special group. On the one hand, I have experience working with abused women and their children; on the other hand, I am now volunteering in the area of Occupational Therapy at a local VA hospital and the more contact that I have with veterans and the more I read in my free time these days about veterans issues and affairs – especially the challenge presented by PTSD – the more I think about working at a VA hospital after earning my MSW Degree. I am also interested in the elderly and thus I might pursue and learn all that I can under your expert guidance at XXXX University about the issues facing older veterans in particular. Just recently, I have been exploring suicide among Vietnam veterans and have been horrified by the statistics, with many more having taken their own lives than fell in combat in Vietnam. I am beginning to understand the scope of the mental health challenges of returning veterans and how it is not just Vietnam but ongoing, prolonged wars in other regions of the world taking a profound toll on new generations of young people.

My passion for healing, my own difficult history, and my recent experience of helping young women and girls that have been victimized, raped, battered and sold, fills me to the extent that I never thought possible: mission, vocation, and redemption.

I also volunteer with XXXXs, a nonprofit youth football team in Las Vegas. I find enormous joy helping disadvantaged kids get involved in sports and learn the art of teamwork. I volunteer at Three Square, helping to provide meals to seniors and lunches to children. I take part in and very much enjoy 5k runs for charity. My volunteer work with trafficked girls forced to work in the adult industry despite the fact that they were legal minors has resulted in my learning the full extent to which trafficking of girls and young women is global problem that is mammoth in scope. I also feel called to this area of social work.

2: Social Work Philosophy: For me, the social work profession and its core values all surround the principle of helping the weakest and most vulnerable members of our community. I have incorporated these values in my work with both trafficked girls and veterans facing a wide range of disabilities and challenges, veterans returning from war, in each case helping people to feel that they have attachment to their community. My compassion and warmth is the greatest strength or attribute that I bring to the social work profession, along with my unbridled enthusiasm for our field. I want to dedicate myself to a lifetime of healing, helping returning veterans to cope with their experiences and the all-too-frequently difficult challenges of reinsertion into civilian society. I want to help minimize the damage to their families as well.

I am especially interested in the prevention of veteran suicide. Once I earn the MSW from XXXX University, I will be well positioned in light of my previous experience to assume leadership roles in this great struggle. Nothing seems worse to me than the situation that we find ourselves in today, with many more veterans taking their own life than those falling in combat. Something must be done.

3 Diversity: After earning my degree and becoming licensed as an MSW Professional, I would like to be able to help abused women and children, & teens, providing them with the knowledge, tools, and support base that they need to be safe to and to recover from the abuse to which they have been subjected. I want to steer them in the right direction, letting them know about the resources that are available to help them. Appreciation of diversity is fundamental to the career that I seek, especially since victims of domestic violence tend to come from the more humble sectors of our society, disproportionately women and children of color.

I hope to be accepted into the Masters of Social Work program at XXXX University so that I might have the privilege of spending my professional life caring for women and children in need, or veterans if I decide to pursue my current interest in that direction. I look forward to an intense immersion experience at XXXX, studying the full gambit of social work issues: particularly domestic violence, pregnant women - especially teens - and the broad variety of special mental health issues that they face. I also look forward to learning as much as I can about veterans issues and PTSD.

 4: Personal Strengths: I see my strongest and most valuable attributes, in addition to compassion and empathy, to be determination, strength, a very high level of motivation, and a tenacious desire to help everyone who I come into contact with that is suffering, in a professional or volunteer capacity, to the extent to which I am able to do so. Furthermore, I look forward to continuing to cultivate these attributes throughout the course of my professional lifetime. As a result of my own suffering and recovery as a victim of child sexual abuse, I have increasingly come to appreciate how life can change in a moment, the blink of an eye. I have known great hardship and tragedy and that is what drives me to a career in Social Work.

In my search for answers, I have read a great deal about addiction, trauma, healing, and recovery and I hope to have the privilege of counseling those who suffer from trauma and/or addictions in the future as an MSW professional. I feel strongly that this is the right time for me to go to graduate school to prepare myself for making my maximum social contribution

I thank you for considering my application to Social Work at XXXX University.

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