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DSW, Armed Forces Issues, Cancer Survivor

XXXX University is my first choice among graduate programs for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the University of XXXX has become well established as a world leader in the Social Work area, as well as being one of the leading forces in the development of online education, especially in the area of Social Work. Finally, I earned my MSW Degree at UXX and I feel at home there, and very much inspired by the Social Work faculty in your program.

I have a wonderful husband who has long been a central force in my life, my best friend and soul mate, for decades we have shared everything. In addition to being a very sensitive and inspiring man who is well read and engaged with social issues, my husband is also a disabled veteran who served in the US military for more than 20 years. His journey in the Armed Forces has been my journey as well in many ways, listening to his stories over the years, I became increasingly engaged myself in Armed Forces issues, especially from the perspective of my own chosen field, Social Work. This is yet another reason why I feel strongly that UXX is the optimal location for me to earn the DSW Degree in Social Work, because of your leadership role in the area of military social work. My central interest is in the area of sexual assault in the military, why it occurs, what can be done to prevent it, and most of all how to adequately support the victims. This was also my area of greatest focus and engagement as an MSW student at UXX and I look forward to continuing to study basically where I left off, continuing to build a lifetime specialty primarily in the area of sexual assault in the military. I find myself overwhelmingly attracted to the state-of-the-art character of Social Work at the University of XXXX, video instruction, participation in veteran conferences and the presence of outreach programs to military sexual trauma (survivors). Earning the DSW in this area will prepare me for decades of additional work to come serving as an advocate, helping survivors to find justice and peace in their lives, and to recover to the fullest extent possible.

For more than a year, I have been employed as a Social Worker providing direct medical case management services to individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS. In this capacity I have learned a great deal about families in crisis, individuals and families most of whom have had very hard lives with their children often at risk of suffering from the bad choices that have all too often been made by their parents. I have continued to learn more and more about sexuality and identity, perhaps especially sexual issues in minority communities, since many if not most of my clients are members of historically marginalized groups, African-Americans and Latinos in particular.  I have also become a master of processing paperwork: intake, assessments, service plan development and implementation, referral and resource development. I also maintain patient EMR documentation in AIDS Regional Information and Evaluation System (ARIES) and Sunrise, documenting emotional reactions and through various stages of the disease process.

I aspire to become a Social Work administrator. I seek professional advancement and I feel strongly that I have the right talent, passion, dedication, and skills to excel as a DSW professional. As a military spouse of over 20 years, I have reveled in the opportunity and variety inherent to military life; I have increasingly come to appreciate the way that military culture and experience come with unique demands and challenges. I am a strong, independent, and resilient woman, with an optimistic, out-going personality, and I have gained much from the diversity and challenge I encountered as a military spouse.

At the age of 26 I was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and I was pregnant at that time. However, I am a person of courage, perseverance, and great personal strength, and I continued undeterred to deliver a healthy, robust, and beautiful son. Although I was to discover later that I had been misdiagnosed, I felt no anger or rancor when I received this news. Rather, I viewed this life experience as a unique opportunity to learn and grow in deeply personal and reflective ways. Forgiveness and gratitude come easily to me, whereas blame and retribution do not. These are the attitudes and life lessons I bring to a future in social work, along with a substantial degree of empathy and compassion for the failures, inadequacies, and struggles encountered by others.

A number of life experiences led me to select social work as a future career. Perhaps the most deeply moving and motivational of these experiences was my volunteer work with the San Antonio Rape Crisis Center. I worked as a victim advocate at this center for five months in 2006, meeting with rape survivors at local hospitals, assisting with the gathering and recording of details of alleged attacks, and ensuring that survivors receive appropriate support and counseling in the ensuing months. This work was at once tragic and rewarding. Although many of these women were angry, alienated, and afraid, I discovered that I had an innate ability to interact in trusting and open ways with them. It was then that I knew with certainty that my future lay in the care and service of those most vulnerable or defeated among us, and it was then that I determined I would one day pursue the DSW Degree, becoming a Social Work leader so as to make my maximum contribution to my society in this way. The following year I volunteered at the San Antonio Food Bank, where I organized and packed food supplies. There, I encountered a number of displaced survivors of Hurricane Katrina, many of whom were homeless, destitute, and emotionally distraught. I was once again overwhelmed not only by an intense drive to assist and support those in need, working across socio-cultural barriers and forming meaningful bonds with my clients. As a military spouse I have enjoyed not only exposure to varied geographical locations in Europe and the U.S., but also contact with a wide range of people of diverse ethnicities and socio-cultural backgrounds. I abhor prejudice and embrace inclusion. I believe two of the greatest strengths that I hope to bring to your DSW Program at UXX are my tolerance and respect of human diversity and my ability to communicate well with people from all backgrounds and walks of life.

My two-year experience as a substitute teacher at the XXXX School in XXXX also strengthened my commitment to a future in Social work. It was during these two years that I grew to understand, in concrete and palpable ways, the pain and isolation endured by children whose appearance, mental impairment, or social maladjustment results in their becoming objects of derision or exclusion. One child in particular springs to mind. He was autistic, socially inept, and frequently bullied. I worked hard both to address and redirect the bullying behavior, and to promote a mutually supportive, tolerant, and inclusive learning environment. I learned then that I have a natural penchant for the design and management of group-therapy interventions designed to promote collaborative, team-oriented, and socially cohesive communities.

I am deeply concerned with and engaged in the issues of mental illness that are related to military life, especially PTSD. Veteran suicide rates have skyrocketed in recent years, and the correlation between incidents of domestic violence and perpetrators’ involvement in overseas conflict is now well documented. The problem continues to get worse as new waves of veterans return from ongoing combat engagements overseas. I find it deeply disturbing that veterans are more than twice as likely as members of the general population to commit suicide. I look forward to addressing these issues not only in clinical, hands-on practice, but also as a researcher. Ultimately, I hope that such research may bring this issue into the full light of public scrutiny, with a view to pressuring state and federal governmental agencies to implement policies designed to support mentally ill veterans in tangible and truly empathic ways.

Veterans suffering from PTSD are two to three times more likely than the general population to engage in acts of domestic violence. However, interventions designed to address domestic violence differ considerably from those designed to treat PTSD. I am interested in social work that seeks to combine these two approaches in one highly specified, multi-organizational, and community-based approach. I am also dedicated to clinical practice that is firmly grounded in evidence-based psychological treatments as equally as it is focused in domestic-violence rehabilitation programs. I envisage such work as coordinated by the collaborative efforts of multiple care providers, including law enforcement officers, judicial-system personnel, community activists, school counselors, and social workers.

Finally, I see drug addiction and substance abuse among veterans as part of the overall problem of military-personnel mental illness. Veterans diagnosed with PTSD report hallucinations, psychosis, and severe social alienation when such drugs are heavily imbibed or over prescribed. I feel strongly that medication and sedation are not the solutions to the pain and terror of PTSD. Rather, I want to help veterans by providing empirically based psychological therapy and ongoing care and counseling.

I thank you for considering my application to the most comprehensive DSW program in the world: UXX. 

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For almost two decades now, I have supported myself and my family by helping applicants to graduate school draft eloquent and highly effective admission statements for degree programs BSW, MSW, DSW; and PHD. I am convinced that I have talent in this area as a bleeding heart, myself, a militant for healing and a lifelong learner; it is the stories of social workers that most intrigue me. Working on behalf of social workers keeps my heart engaged as well as my brain. 

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