The chaos and uncertainty that the coronavirus has brought show us the critical role our social work staff plays in our mission. HOPE has eight social workers on staff that specialize in military social work, but did you know HOPE also has partnerships with prestigious universities that offer Master of Social Work programs? We are eager to provide field placements and internships to students who have a desire to serve the warrior community as we see a strong need for this type of support.

Since we started offering Social Work Internships in 2012, we have helped shape more than 50 social workers.

Hathaway, KelliThis year, former Naval Warfare Officer Kelli Hathaway has joined the Hope For The Warriors Clinical Health and Wellness team to complete her field placement requirement. She will graduate from the Master of Social Work program at Boston University in September of 2020.

While serving in the Navy, Kelli gained a deeper understanding of the importance of effective communication, including strengthening her listening skills. She loved that through her job, she had the opportunity to work alongside and get to know Sailors, Marines and Soldiers from all walks of life—branches, lifestyles, genders, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic, etc. Kelli felt that getting to know each of them and hearing their stories helped prepare her for when they ran into personal crises.

Kelli shares, “When I got out of the Navy, the thing I had missed the most was the time I spent with my Sailors and counseling (the good and the bad!). My greatest accomplishments were seeing them grow personally and professionally, and I always felt that a lot of good came from taking the time to sit with them and get to know them so I could better help them meet their goals. I missed this. As I started thinking more about what I wanted to do as a civilian, it led me to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). After some research, I learned that the VA hired a lot of clinical Social Workers, and I determined that was what I needed to do!”

As an intern, she loves the opportunity to apply what she is learning in the class to real-life situations while working with HOPE clients. Kelli shares about what life is like interning with HOPE in the Q&A below:

What have you learned during your experience with HOPE? 

My time with HOPE has taught me both the importance of self-determinism when working with clients, but also has really helped me understand that everyone has a unique story and pathway that has led them to HOPE. And everyone’s story is worth listening to.

What has been the most valuable experience during your time here?

The privilege of getting to listen to each story of the clients I’ve gotten to work with. What I love is that even when I am unable to help a client through direct services, I can work with clients to provide additional resources that may be beneficial.


What is your advice for other students pursuing a career in social work?

It’s definitely not always easy work, but it has been incredibly satisfying. Also, it is so important to set boundaries!

What does it mean to you to be supporting your fellow veterans and military families through your work at HOPE?

Honestly, it means everything to me. I feel that I have lived this life and can see situations from different lenses, being both a veteran and a spouse of an active duty Marine, and as a result, this makes me want to work harder for our veterans and families. I may not understand an exact situation, because I recognize that everyone’s life experiences culminate into their current situations differently. Still, I can certainly bring empathy to the work and an understanding of the added stressors that sometimes can get lost in translation for those without any military experience. I’ve enjoyed the work here at HOPE and getting to know the clients and their stories! It’s been a wonderful opportunity!

Hathaway, KelliThank you, Kelli, for your dedicated work for Hope For The Warriors and those we serve! We are thankful for your tireless efforts, and it has been a pleasure watching you grow into an impactful social worker. Thank you for letting HOPE be a part of your journey!

For more information about Hope For The Warriors’ Social Work Internship program, click here.