CIR Director Carl Castro and Anthony Hassan with the Cohen Veteran Network at a special interest group on research with service members, veterans and military families at SSWR.

A more robust military social work track debuted at this year’s annual conference of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) that highlighted research by the USC School of Social Work.

Held in the District of Columbia earlier this month, more than a dozen presentations involved school researchers, including nine that stemmed from data gathered by the school’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families.

The following abstracts were presented by CIR faculty, staff, postdocs and doctoral students:

  • Difficulty Adjusting to Civilian Life after Military Transition: The impact on current physical and mental health status in Pre and Post 9/11 Veterans (Sara Kintzle and Carl Castro)
  • Military sexual trauma (MST) among veterans in Southern California and associated physical and psychological health, and risk behavior outcomes (Ashley Schuyler, Carrie Lucas, Hadass Moore, Sara Kintzle and Carl Castro)
  • Military Sexual Trauma with military transition as a moderator for relationship issues among veterans (Carrie Lucas, Sara Kintzle and Carl Castro)
  • An exploration of female veteran’s perception of military service in the context of a male-dominated environment (Sara Ozuna, Ashley Schuyler, Mary Keeling, Sara Kintzle and Carl Castro)
  • Health and disability among veterans (Diana Ray-Letourneau, Sara Kintzle and Carl Castro)
  • A qualitative study of veteran clients using employment and housing services in Southern California: Exploring the risk factors to persistent employment problems (Mary Keeling, Sara Kintzle, Carl Castro)
  • What can specific PTSD symptom profiles tell us about suicidality and non-suicidal high risk behavior in military veterans (Nicholas Barr, Sara Kintzle, Carl Castro and Kathrine Sullivan)
  • The impact of mental health, physical health and previous deployments on the family functioning of veterans (Kathrine Sullivan, Nicholas Barr, Sara Kintzle and Carl Castro)

At this year’s conference, the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare also launched the Grand Challenges for Social Work to promote innovation, collaboration and expansion of proven, evidence-based programs aimed at making meaningful progress on some of society’s most intractable problems, like homelessness, income inequality, mental illness and climate change.

Carl Castro, assistant professor and director of CIR, led a roundtable discussion on the grand challenges associated with military mental health. Resulting from a meeting held last year at USC that brought together leading international research centers, these preliminary challenges were identified as “ambitious, yet achievable goals for our nation that mobilize the profession, capture the public’s imagination, and require innovation and breakthroughs in science and practice to achieve.”

Among them are:

  • Foster military and family resilience across military occupations and career transitions
  • End veteran homelessness
  • Eliminate stigma associated with seeking mental and physical health care
  • Prevent military and veteran deaths by suicide, unintentional prescription drug overdose, and risky behaviors
  • End military sexual harassment and assault
  • Cure post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Other school research presented included work on gang membership among military-connected youth, post-secondary aspirations of military-connected youth, and the use of educational resource guides for military students in public schools.

Visit for more information about this year’s conference.

TOP PHOTO: Sara Ozuna, project specialist; Carrie Lucas, doctoral student, Sara Kintzle, research assistant professor; and Ashley Schuyler, project specialist, at the 20th annual conference for the Society for Social Work and Research from Jan. 13-17 in the District of Columbia.

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