Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide, and the Lessons of War

About the Program:

Graduate Certificate in Veterans Services

Empire State College, State University of New York
Penny has been integral to the development of a new on-line graduate certificate in veterans services being offered through Empire State College of the State University of New York. She currently serves as a course developer and faculty member.

The need for skilled personnel in the field of Veteran Services cannot be overstated. In addition to the veterans of previous conflicts, 2.3 million military service members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those individuals are returning to civilian life with the need to access social services, health care services, education, employment, and housing and with the challenge of reintegrating into families and communities. Some are able to move forward quickly, using the post-9/11 GI Bill and other programs to go on with their lives. Others face a more difficult transition as they try to manage the after-effects of war and personal dislocation.

This same need for skilled personnel is equally apparent from the point of view of the agencies and institutions charged with serving veterans. The Veterans Administration and the network of Vet Centers, outpatient clinics, and medical centers are understaffed and under-resourced, while the personnel serving veterans in colleges and community colleges, state and county government, health care organizations, and social service agencies are, in too many cases, ill-equipped to deal with the unique needs of this population.

The curriculum of the Certificate in Veteran Services includes three three-credit required courses, plus a fourth three-credit elective to be selected by the student. Opportunities for field work and community action and advocacy is built into the courses.

Students completing the certificate will:

 have a broad understanding of the challenges facing veterans as they return to civilian life,

 understand the historical and contemporary context of veteran services in the US and the social imperative of providing veterans with the benefits, services, and support they have earned,

 be able to analyze veteran services from the perspective of the individual veteran, the family, the community, the service agency, and the various levels of governments

 have broad and accurate knowledge of the benefits to which veterans are entitled, including those in health care, education, and employment,

 have needed familiarity with the range of social and personal issues that some veterans face, including physical and emotional injury, family destabilization, unemployment, homelessness, and self-destructive and criminal behaviors,

 have a sufficient understanding of social service agencies, claims- and case-work, advocacy, and training to operate effectively within the broad system of veteran benefits,

 be able to view veterans benefits from the perspective of policy and policy-makers, and

 be culturally competent to work effectively with a diverse range of veterans, military families, and military/veteran communities.

Students who earn credit through the certificate and are admitted to Empire States Master of Arts in Social Policy can apply the credit toward a masters degree.