Social Work in the Public Eye
NASW member Al
Brewster is a Vietnam veteran and cofounder of Battle Buddies,
a volunteer-led program dedicated to helping veterans of military service,
their families and significant others heal.
According to an article in Southern Maryland Newspapers
online, Brewster says that moving successfully between the worlds of war and
civilization requires a connection with someone else “who has been there and
The article says those who have served in the military have
seen parts of the world and conditions that are completely outside of the
American experience. When they try to readjust to civilian life, everyday
occurrences — such as a traffic jam — can trigger memories of times and areas
experienced during deployment, such as an improvised explosive device being
just around the bend.
Battle Buddies trains volunteers, links veterans to experts
who can help with issues regarding the Veterans Administration — like health
care and debt — and has launched a mobile application to provide easier access
for volunteers and participants to get involved.
“We’ve got people in different spots of the country, making
noises about how they’d like to have their own chapter of Battle Buddies in the
community,” Brewster says in the article.
Battle Buddies currently has 18 ongoing relationships (at the
time of publication) where veterans and those returning from combat are paired
with a volunteer serviceman or servicewoman who lend a listening and
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down bans on same-sex marriage,
a decision that left NASW member Brenda
Newell overwhelmed, according to an article in The Herald of
Everett, in Washington state.
“It was hard to find words to express it. I have deep
gratitude,” said Newell, who married her partner in 2013. “If five or 10 years
ago somebody had told me this ruling would come down, I didn’t see any
Newell was raised in Utah and Idaho where gay rights and
sexual orientation were not really talked about or questioned. During her
upbringing, the word “homosexual” was clearly seen as negative.
“There wasn’t anyone in my life who was out and visible in
terms of who they were,” she says in the article.
After moving to the Puget Sound area, Newell said her
awareness and openness grew, but coming out was not a one-time, easy process.
“I had to go through that on a repeated basis, with each new
friendship, each new job,” she said. “It brings such stress.”
She says even with cultural changes, it’s still hard for young
people to accept who they are and sometimes even well-meaning parents aren’t
“The hope from parents is that this is just a phase,” Newell
said. “(Kids get) another message of shame, that there’s something wrong with
Newell says she sees youths in her counseling practice that
are really struggling, and there has been a significant increase in suicide
rates for youths addressing sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to the article, having the marriage question decided
once and for all means not only equality for couples, but hope for young
“Regardless of who we are, who our partners are, our
relationships can be legally honored through marriage,” Newell said.
She is also involved with GLOBE, a group that serves gay,
lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning teens in Snohomish County, Wash.
Someone pulling a disappearing act after several dates — or
even a relationship — that seemed to go well is a frequent topic that’s
discussed in psychotherapy, according to a Huffington Post article written by
NASW member Elisabeth
She says this type of disappearing behavior is called
“ghosting”, a relatively new term, yet it’s a long-standing exit strategy that
exemplifies the concept of passive aggression. It’s even a common strategy some
clients use to end therapy.
LaMotte says society tends to shy away from endings as they
can be awkward and uncomfortable, so it’s easier to avoid them all together.
But she says each ending is an opportunity for emotional growth, and proper
goodbyes are important.
Concluding a relationship with the respect it deserves
demonstrates the ability to own and articulate an independent decision.
LaMotte says it is ethically prudent for therapists to request
that clients sign a termination agreement when the clinical relationship
begins. Without such an agreement, therapists can unknowingly continue certain
ethical responsibilities to clients long after the therapist has been ghosted.
NASW member Sammy
Rangel was invited to give a talk at the TEDxDanubia conference
in Budapest, Hungary, because of his work in Racine, Wis., and beyond,
according to an article on Racine’s JournalTimes.com.
Rangel turned his life around after being released from
prison, the article says, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social
work. He had a turbulent childhood, and was a former gang member and
He now helps recently released felons transform their lives —
and relates from his own experiences, some of which he shared during his talk.
“All people have some form of suffering,” he says in the
article, adding that choosing to suffer poorly or suffer well is a choice.
“Your details may be different than mine, but we all know something about
Rangel has served as a counselor with various agencies and
programs in Racine County and is the founder of Formers Anonymous, a local
network of people in Racine seeking redemption and freedom from a lifestyle of
self-destructive involvement with crime, street life, violence, addiction, power
and control through change and recovery.
He is also involved with international organizations,
including Life After Hate and the Forgiveness Project; and authored the book
“Fourbears: Myths of Forgiveness.”
“It’s not as much about getting over the past as it is about
engaging in the present,” Rangel said. “I’m living a life — a good life. It has
its ups and downs, but it hasn’t stopped me from doing what I set out to do.”
For Rangel’s TEDx talk, go to: youtu.be/iOzJO6HRIuA.
According to a Washington Post article, 2016 Democratic
presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to make issues related to
substance abuse and mental health a key part of her campaign.
The article says Clinton’s policy advisers held discussions
with stakeholders in Iowa and New Hampshire who are involved in helping people
who are dealing with substance abuse and mental illness.
NASW member Marti
Anderson, an Iowa state representative, says in the article that
four participants in an Iowa Google hangout discussed the topic with Clinton’s
senior policy advisers. They spoke about concerns, and what they think can
“I think the overarching discussion was that there needs to be
more treatment,” Anderson said. “It was more of a listening post.”
She said the group also talked about helping low-level drug
offenders who are in prison.
“We’ve been doing a war on drugs since I was a teenager, and
frankly I’m an older woman now,” said Anderson, 64. “And it’s not working.”
According to the article, a Clinton adviser said Clinton
believes treatment facilities must be adequately funded and insurance companies
should approach treating addiction as they would any other chronic disease.
Clinton’s conversations on the trail and her advisers’
discussions with people working on the issue have made the subject a priority
for her campaign, the adviser said.
The article says treatment providers, law enforcement
officers, local politicians and others in Iowa and New Hampshire also
participated in the hangouts.
From September 2015 NASW News. © 2015 National
Association of Social Workers. All Rights Reserved. NASW News
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