By Patricia Deal, CRDAMC Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, Texas— More than 100 social workers and behavioral health professionals from Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center and community network partners met for career development and networking at the annual Social Work Month symposium here March 15.
In her keynote address, retired Army Col. Jennifer Humphries, clinical director of the Medical Command’s Family Advocacy and former Army Social Work Consultant to the Surgeon General, spoke to the audience about how today’s ‘what’s in it for me’ type of culture contrasts with the social work core values of service and social justice.
“But I want you to remember that the work you do is especially important to bring people together and affect change. It elevates humanity and ultimately improves the lives of our Soldiers and their families,” Humphries said.
In addition to Humphries’ keynote address, representatives from CRDAMC and area community facilities gave presentations on topics such as Moral Injury, Major Depressive Disorder and Suicide Prevention.
The event helps to further develop professional competency, according to Col. Lataya Hawkins, chief of CRDAMC’s Department of Behavioral Health, as attendees receive continuing education credits for the sessions.
“The intent is for everyone to get new tools—practical and relevant knowledge—to take back with them which they can immediately implement as they treat the Soldiers and Family Members,” Hawkins said. “It’s important to bring in our community partners, so that we can glean knowledge from each other. We may have more experience in treating Soldiers who suffer from trauma issues while off post providers have more experience with treating major depressive issues. We need to make sure that we’re all providing the most up to date, evidence-based treatment for our patients.”
Having worked for CRDAMC and now working as the suicide prevention coordinator for the Veteran’s Medical Center in Temple, Texas, Lisa Fowler recognizes the importance of the collaborative spirit of the event.
“From my perspective, having attended these events on the military side and now on the civilian side, I think these type of events are so important. Social work is demanding and we all have hectic and full schedules but the information presented is definitely worthwhile. We can learn what everyone is doing, and perhaps how we can work together, as we have the same goal to help Soldiers and their families,” Fowler said.
Hawkins added that the event also gives attendees a chance to take a break from their routine, giving them an opportunity to refresh. “The resiliency piece is important, too, as caretakers need to take a pause so they don’t get burned out,” Hawkins said. “Attending these kind of events often gives everyone a little bit of motivation or inspiration that reignites that passion within them.”