An overview of military social work: The case of Zimbabwe
Military social work is a branch of the social work profession which provides services to soldiers and their spouses and dependents during peace time, war time and national crises. Soldiers face a myriad health and social challenges stemming from war stressors and the challenges of re-integration to civilian life. Many war veterans suffer serious mental health disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) which in most cases may lead to substance abuse, domestic violence, murder and suicide. It therefore follows that, no defence force, whether armed to the teeth with the most modern and sophisticated weaponry would be effective at war if it undermines, or attaches low priority, to the social and welfare needs of its soldiers. It is folly and indeed a sure path to its demise should any armed force chose to ignore the fact that for a soldier to effectively execute combat duties, he needs assurance that his commanders are concerned with his welfare. Military social work cannot, therefore, be overemphasized. Military social work is a unique profession because of its extraordinary challenges and dilemmas that arise due to military practices and policies. Military social work is a largely distinct field of social work. Both students of social work and social work practitioners need to be aware of this fact. As a result, the military social workers’ unique experiences and educational needs should be part of the discourse of social work practice in national social work for a. This will influence social work educators to work on curriculum adjustment since military social work practice should balance the needs of individual clients and the needs of military organisations.
KEY TERMS: military social work, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, detention barracks, re-integration