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News Items – May 11, 2016

War wounds lead graduating veteran to new mission
Berkeley News
“I can’t be on the battlefield running and protecting people anymore, but the strong pull I feel now is social work, to work with veterans face-to-face,” the 29-year-old  Antioch resident says. “I know I can help in that role. I can be of value and save lives in the process.”…In addition to outreach work at the Cal Veteran Services Center, [Brian] Vargas already has helped Diablo Valley College plan a new veterans resource center and, with a U.S. Veterans Administration psychologist, is designing a novel method of deterring veterans from impulsive firearms suicide. On June 1, he’ll start working as a constituent representative for U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat who serves parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties and says he’s “in awe of Brian’s accomplishments.” “Nothing Brian does in the future is going to surprise me,” says Sherman Boyson, undergraduate adviser at Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare, which chose Vargas to speak at its May 14 graduation ceremony. “How do you keep going after you’ve been in combat? He just perseveres. He’d be a great candidate to run for office, to fight for social justice and military benefits. He’s someone you’re going to read about.”

Brandi Felderhoff and Peter Lehmann are members:
Don’t judge a country by its tragedies
UTA – The Shorthorn (Arlington, TX)
Brandi Felderhoff, social work adjunct professor, has taught Habib in a few social work courses. She said for someone like [Nausheen] Habib who wants to work internationally, traveling to Haiti is an opportunity that she needed to have. “It’s a very informative opportunity that will solidify her interests and her desires and give her a clear picture of where she wants to go,” Felderhoff said. Peter Lehmann, social work professor, said Habib embodies social work at its broadest level by engaging and empowering communities to change themselves, so they can prosper.

Stacy Bowen is a member:
From tragedy, a new calling for Stacy Bowen
Asheville Citizen-Times
After her husband, Asheville firefighter Jeff Bowen, died battling a fire nearly five years ago, Stacy Bowen struggled to make sense of things. She was trying to figure out “what does all this mean?” and trying “to make some semblance of what is the greater good here…I kept searching and looking and trying to figure all that out,” Bowen said in an interview. “And everything I sought after kept bringing me back to my drive and passion to help others.”  The 47-year-old decided to return to school to obtain a degree in social work and embark on a new career. After two years of night classes, Bowen will graduate on Saturday with a degree from Mars Hill University. She’s one of two student speakers who will address the graduates during the graduation ceremony.

John Weggenmann is a member:
Crazy for Coloring
The Columbia Daily Tribune [MO]
[John] Weggenmann attended the 2016 Show-Me Annual Symposium by the National Association of Social Workers Heartland in April, and learned that coloring books are beneficial for everyone, from college students to those with post-traumatic stress disorder. Weggenmann, who is deaf, wrote that coloring books also are helpful for people who have disabilities. He attends Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., a university for the deaf and hard of hearing, and will graduate in May with a master’s degree in social work. “In the past, I was stressed with school projects,” Weggenmann wrote. “The coloring books helped me to relieve my mind. Sometimes, it helped me to develop ideas and strategies for school projects.”

Jessica Davis is a member:
Postpartum depression: The silent struggle of motherhood
Richmond Times-Dispatch [VA]
Postpartum rage and OCD both are on the postpartum depression spectrum, said Jessica Davis, a licensed clinical social worker with a local private practice. That spectrum includes various kinds of depression and anxiety that many mothers experience. “One of the things I see most in my work is a lot of feelings of shame and guilt around their ability to not be the mother they wanted to be or have the connection they imagined they would when they were pregnant,” Davis said.

Will Francis is government relations director for NASW Texas:
Austin Can Find the Money To Fix Child Protective Services, If It Wants To
Dallas Observer
The organization chews up and spits out young caseworkers at an astounding rate. In the Dallas area, the average caseworker now lasts about six months. At that rate of turnover, it’s a challenge just to staff the agency with warm bodies. The reason, says Will Francis, government relations director for the National Association of Social Workers Texas, is fairly simple. “We don’t necessarily value the workers themselves, but we ask them to do these really, really hard jobs,” he says.

Kristie Wimbush is a member:
Social work graduate doesn’t let hardship hold her back
Campus Echo Online [North Carolina Central University]
But Wimbush has found the strength to make a better life for herself. With help from Youth Villages, a scholarship agency, counselors and social workers from her high school, she was able to attend college and attain a social work degree. She has been inducted into the social work honor society Phi Alpha, earned academic honors from the university, and will go to the University of South Carolina to work on a master’s degree in social work in USC’s advanced standing program.

Chris Budnick is a member:
Talking Recovery, Reducing Stigma
North Carolina Health News
According to Chris Budnick, executive director of Healing Transitions, it can take months for the brains of people who have been using alcohol or opioids or other drugs to get to a place where they can really imagine being without that drug. Some folks end up on an anti-depressant or psychiatric medications to help their underlying mental health issues. Some go cold turkey. “Research with brain scans show that your brain is still not back to normal functioning for many months,” Budnick. “Anything short of 90 days of engagement is not effective.”

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