The University of St. Thomas

School of Social Work

Military Social Work

Military Social Work

Military Social Work

What is military social work?

"Military social work involves direct practice, policy and administrative activities, and advocacy...to service members, veterans, their families, and their communities."  

Why is military social work important?

Today's U.S. military population is comprised of 3.6 million service members2, over 21 million veterans3, and their families. Support needs for service members, veterans, their families, and their communities have become increasingly complex to articulate, assess and treat.  These needs  create a demand for social workers who are educated, trained and skilled in working with these populations.

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The School of Social Work has developed an initiative to prepare MSW students for specialized practice with military service members, veterans, and their families.  This includes an Area of Emphasis in Military Practice (AEMP) Scholars program, and the development of two new military social work electives.

Area of Emphasis in Military Practice (AEMP) Scholars

AEMP Scholars brings together MSW students, faculty, and community members in a two-year program that includes:

  • Courses, course assignments and events specific to military service members, veterans, and their families.
  • Leadership opportunities within their AEMP Scholars cohort
  • Field practicum that serves the needs of military service members, veterans, and/or their families
  • Clinical research paper topic on service members, veterans, and/or their families
  • Tuition stipend of $1000.

* Students apply to become an AEMP Scholar AFTER acceptance to the MSW program.  When applications are being accepted, links to the application are found on the tuition and financial aid webpage.

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The AEMP Scholars program accepts a limited number of students each year.  However, all enrolled MSW students have the opportunity to further concentrate their studies in the area of Military Social Work through their choice of electives, fieldwork placements, and clinical research paper. 

Military Social Work Electives


SOWK 490 / GRSW 590:  Practice with Military Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families

     This course provides an introduction to and overview of military social work knowledge, skills, and values for working with service members, veterans, and their families at the foundation level.  Content includes an examination of topics relevant to a foundation in military social work practice such as military culture, at-risk populations, as well as risk and resilience among deployed service members and their families.  Students are expected to examine their own and societal attitudes about social work with military-impacted populations.  Students will demonstrate competency through integrative, multi-level applications grounded in literature, current initiatives and resources for military-impacted populations, and current research and policy. 

GRSW 690:  Clinical Military Social Work Practice

     This course assumes that students have a basic understanding of the military, service members, veterans, and their families.  The focus of the work in this course is the development of clinical competencies and use of professional self in military social work practice.  This elective draws on theory and research informed strategies for military social work interventions with service members/veterans, couples, family members, and groups.  Throughout the course, students will be expected to address their learning in the context of application to practice and leadership in the field. 


If you are interested in learning more about Military Social Work initiatives, please contact:

Kari L. Fletcher, Ph.D., LICSW, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Area of Emphasis in Military Practice (AEMP). Office: SCB310.  Email: flet1660@stthomas.edu.  Phone: (651) 962-5807

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1 Council on Social Work Education. (2010).  Advanced social work practice in military social work.
          Retrieved from http://www.cswe.org/File.aspx?id=42466 

2Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense. (2012, November).  2011 demographics: 
          Profile of the military community.  Retrieved from
          http://www.militaryonesource.mil/12038/MOS/Reports/2011_Demographics_Report.pdf

3United States Census Bureau. (2011).  American fact finder:  Veteran status 2011 American Community
          Survey 1-year estimates (S2101).  Retrieved from
          http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_11_1YR_S2101&prodType=table