Others Who Have Served
SSW doctoral student John Bucholtz and his wife, Laura
Owen, both military veterans.
On Monday, November 12—Veteran's
Day—Smith student John Bucholtz will march with his family
in San Diego’s Veteran’s Day parade. Meanwhile
that day, his classmate Jennifer Mahn plans to call and text her friends in the
Bucholtz and Mahn are among
a half-dozen student veterans currently enrolled in the , a graduate program that was founded nearly
100 years ago to prepare and train social workers to provide
mental health services to traumatized soldiers from World
The school now offers an annual
scholarship for a military member or veteran who is making
a commitment to working on mental health issues specific
to military personnel, and a curriculum to support that pursuit.
“There are not a lot of schools that specifically address veterans’ needs,” said
Bucholtz, a former member of the U.S. Air Force. “Smith is
one of only a few programs in the country that offers curriculum
around military social work.”
Last summer, Bucholtz completed
the first of three 10-week summer academic sessions toward
his doctorate in social work. Next year, his wife, Laura
Owen, and their two children will temporarily relocate
to Smith from San Diego with him for the summer, while he
School for Social Work student Jennifer Mahn, a U.S.
Coast Guard veteran, collects oil samples on the Gulf
Working with veterans is a family
affair. Bucholtz and Owen both served in the Air Force as
counselors. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,
the couple was assigned to serve members of the military
in the conflict zone and John in the United States.
the Iraq War stretched on, the physical and mental injuries
among veterans became increasingly worse and more frequent,
said Bucholtz, prompting both he and Owen to pursue advanced
academic work. While Bucholtz enrolled at Smith, Owen began
a dissertation that posits when large groups of individuals
are traumatized, it is a public health crisis.
For School for Social Work
student Mahn, the military experience exposed her to the
idea of social work. Originally, she enlisted in the U.S.
Coast Guard to gain law enforcement experience that she could
parlay into a career as a police officer. But she changed
course after volunteering for a youth program while working
on the BP Oil spill cleanup effort in 2010.
“When I volunteered with
kids on a softball team, I really got interested in counseling,” said
Mahn, who is from Portland, Ore. “The Coast
Guard is all about helping others, and to me that is a personal
Until the start of the next
summer session, Mahn is now doing her placement with a mobile
crisis team in Northampton, while Bucholtz’ is at the Veteran’s
Village of San Diego.
“Case by case, we can make a huge difference,” said Bucholtz.