Social Work
Madigan Army Medical Center Department of Social Work staff members direct a blindfolded Heather Parker through an obstacle course using only their voices.

About 70 members of Madigan Army Medical Center's Department of Social Work spent a recent afternoon at the downtown Tacoma YMCA, but they didn't go to exercise. Instead, they were taking part in team-building tasks to celebrate National Social Work Month.

"It allows us to have some time to recognize the work we do and to support one another," said Diane Debiec, acting Chief of the Department of Social Work at Madigan. "To have this national observance gives us a link to social workers across the country."

Madigan's Department of Social Work encompasses the Family Advocacy Program, which addresses problems with domestic violence and child abuse within military Families; the Preventive Intervention Program, which offers individual and marriage counseling for Soldiers and their Families; Medical Social Work, which offers counseling for patients transitioning out of Madigan Healthcare System; and the Emergency Room, where social workers often interact with chaplains, doctors, nurses and psychiatrists. There are other Madigan departments that utilize social workers, such as the Warrior Transition Battalion and the Army Substance Abuse Program, but these social workers do not belong to Madigan's Department of Social Work.

The team-building exercises consisted of group tasks designed to get staff members to work together. One of the exercises required staff members to stand in a circle throwing balloons in the air, but also keeping the balloons from hitting the ground. Another task had teams guiding a blindfolded person through an obstacle course using only verbal direction.

"We wanted something interactive," said Lt. Kelly Warren, case manager and administrative staff supervisor for the Family Advocacy Program, who helped organize the event. "It is essential to get together and practice team-building as a department."

Capt. Michelle Garcia and Capt. Osceola Evans, two social work interns at Madigan who also participated in planning the event, recently graduated from a first-of-its-kind accelerated Master's in Social Work program developed by the Army Medical Department Center and School at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The program offers one year of classroom education, which is followed by two years of clinical supervision. Garcia and Evans are currently in their fist year of clinical supervision.

"A clinical rotation is required before you can even sit for your exam," Debiec said, who believes there are many myths surrounding the profession of social work. "A lot of people don't realize that social workers are licensed professionals."

The theme for National Social Work Month, "Social Workers Inspire Community Action," means a lot to Diebec, since she's been working with the military community for over 17 years at Madigan.
"We have the honor of working in a military treatment facility where we can do lots of good work for our Soldiers and their Families and our retirees and their Families," she said.

The downtown Tacoma YMCA waived the usual $75 per hour fee for group use of the facility. The executive director, Chris Spivey, is a former social worker himself, and thanked Madigan's Department of Social Work for all of the hard work they do for the military community.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16