USC Campus Trojan Statue. Photo by John Schreiber.
USC Campus Trojan Statue. Photo by John Schreiber.

The University of Southern California School of Social Work Thursday launched a new scholarship effort for veterans pursuing careers designed to help other returning veterans.

The program, Salute4Vets, will serve as both an online fund-raising initiative for the scholarships as well as a showcase of the school’s support for returning veterans, a USC statement said.

Many veterans are returning home with a range of challenges in their transition to civilian life. While some veterans must cope with combat-related stress disorders, the vast majority are navigating through daily life challenges –employment, housing, health care, education and relationships, it said.

Increasingly, social workers are the ones who diagnose and treat them but many do not have specialized training to understand the transition of civilian versus military life, it added.

“The nation faces a critical shortage of social workers qualified to care for veterans and their families,” said Kimberly Finney, clinical associate professor who chairs the school’s military social work program.

“Veterans have unique backgrounds and skillsets that can be leveraged in this field to facilitate interactions with other veterans and, ultimately, improve their lives,” said Finney, a retired U.S. Air Force officer and clinical psychologist.

The Salute4Vets program aims to help veterans pursue a Master of Social Work degree and then a career that will enable them to provide the psychological and social support their fellow veterans need. Donations of any amount to support this effort can be made at

Through the School of Social Work, USC offers the largest national military social work program by a private research university. The Master of Social Work curriculum offers a specialization in military social work with advanced study in military culture and how it affects service members, veterans and their families.

Currently, the school has 1,176 military social work graduates who have gone on to help approximately 235,000 veterans and are serving 100,000 veterans annually. However, more than 10,000 trained social workers are needed to assist the estimated 2.6 million service members who have deployed since 9/11, the statement said.

In order to award 120 Salute4Vets Scholarships, providing a no-cost education for veterans enrolled in the MSW program with the military option, the USC School of Social Work must raise $2.6 million this year, it said.

—City News Service

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