USC Military and Veterans Programs

The mission of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Military and Veterans Programs (MVP) is to advance the health and well-being of our nation’s service members, veterans, and their families through innovations in research, education, and community engagement.  

Military and Veterans Research
Conducting state-of-the-art research using the latest technology developments and scientific thinking to enhance the health and well-being of service members, veterans, and their families.

Military Academic Center
Developing and educating the world’s next generation of military social workers through an innovative and interactive military-focused curriculum, community engagement, and professional networking.

Policy, Practice, and Outreach
The school’s military and veterans programs operate the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative, which comprises of hundreds of community stakeholders, agencies, and representatives serving veterans and military families in Greater Los Angeles.

National and Global Engagement 
eading transformative national and global awareness and partnerships to facilitate teaching, collaboration and research to improve the lives of service members, veterans, and their families.

Impact of COVID-19 on mental health care for Veterans: Improvise, adapt, and overcome!

The ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic would, by most definitions, be considered a “crisis”. While crises can be overwhelming, and often expose vulnerabilities and gaps in our preparedness, they can also be seen as opportunities to quickly adapt, innovate and learn. Leiden University professor Arjen Boin described a disaster as a “crisis gone bad” 1. Thus, the decisions and actions during crisis may avert disaster. The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact is broad upon all aspects of society, including health, education, the economy and many fundamental freedoms.

Addressing the Mental Health Challenges of Bisexual Veterans

New research indicates that service members and veterans who identify as bisexual may be at higher risk for mental health issues, including PTSD and depression than their gay, lesbian, or heterosexual peers.

Katie McNamara, a U.S. Air Force captain and third-year doctoral student at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, has always been an activist and advocate for the LGBT community—but her current focus on the mental health of bisexual veterans arose from a perceived gap in existing research: “there’s quite a bit of research on military and veteran mental health and LGBT health, but very little that combines the two. And before this project, there was absolutely nothing specifically focusing on the sexual minority subgroup of bisexual military-affiliated individuals,” she said.


Introducing VECTA: A New Platform Connecting Veterans to Meaningful Employment Opportunities

A new interagency initiative at the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative aims to place more veterans in meaningful, long-lasting careers.

The Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative (LAVC) has launched the Veterans Employment Career & Transition Alliance (VECTA), a digital platform created by members of the LAVC Career Advancement Working Group. Part of a pilot program aimed at creating interagency veteran support systems, VECTA seeks to increase access to meaningful employment opportunities for veterans by centralizing career development services in their area..

How One Ph.D. is Combatting Trauma Through Mindfulness

Nicholas Barr, USC Ph.D. ‘18, is using mindfulness-based interventions to treat trauma within military and homeless youth populations.

It was a deep curiosity that drove Nicholas Barr to pursue mindfulness on a larger scale. “As an undergraduate, I thought I was the first person in the world to explore the intersection of Buddhism and Western psychology,” he said, chuckling. “Of course I was mistaken.” However, Barr’s interest in the relationship between Buddhism and psychology led to an immersive semester abroad at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in India, catalyzing a career in mindfulness research.