November 16th, 2017 12:12 EST
Airman Sets Sights on Social Work Career
For one Pennsylvania native here, taking care of families and others has always been a passion.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Samantha Murphy, 23rd Wing command post noncommissioned officer in charge of systems, said her desire and dedication to pursue social work first grew out of a love of helping people, and now extends to making a change with military members.
"Being a social worker makes sense, because it`s in line with my views of being able to help fellow airmen who are struggling change the perception that seeking help was bad, and it will put me in a position to where I can help make a difference where it is needed."
Murphy`s journey to such a career field was fueled by events during her childhood, when a social worker reunited her family. Her parents had struggled with substance abuse, resulting in Murphy and her siblings going into the foster system twice.
"As a child, you`re comfortable living with your parents," Murphy said. "When I was separated, I had to readjust to a whole new family and a new set of ways they did things. You`re constantly on edge, almost like a deployment. You don`t know what to expect, and you don`t want to make them mad. You`re not really ever comfortable in someone else`s home, and you want to be back with your parents and siblings. So that`s what made it hard."
With the help of the social worker assigned to their case, Murphy`s parents were rehabilitated, and the family reunited.
With her family back together, Murphy said, she grew up longing to help people.
Air Force Service
She carried this desire to help with her when she joined the Air Force in 2004 as a security forces airman. During her two deployments, she was exposed to the stresses airmen face and the need for those who can help. Still, it wasn`t until talking with a friend who was commissioning as a social worker that Murphy concluded social work would facilitate her desire to enhance social functioning and overall well-being.
"When I deployed, I often [experienced] the same stress and anxieties like everyone else," Murphy said. "I can remember the first time a mortar hit close by. My whole body [tensed up], and I hit the floor. So there`s that heightened sense of awareness you have, and you carry it your whole deployment. I saw the fear of getting help, because of the perception that we were weak or we couldn`t handle it."
Seeing the need to find better ways of helping to break the stigma attached to seeking help, Murphy has tried to assist those in need any way she can. She in her second year of a master`s degree program in social work, and aspires to gaining a commission and serving as a clinical social worker.
"I wanted a bigger platform to make a change," she said. "That`s the ultimate goal. As a commissioned officer in social work, [I`ll be] making that change on a bigger level [and making] a bigger impact.
Shaping a More Effective Team
"I`m excited to see how I can contribute and how I can help shape the Air Force so we`re a more effective team," she continued. "You have to take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. If you`ve got something going on internally and you don`t get it resolved, you bring that to work, and then it`s a bad day."
Recently, Murphy spent three days in Spring Hill, Florida, to help counsel homeless veterans at an event designed to aid homeless and at-risk veterans.
Courtney Wiest, a university professor and one of Murphy`s teachers, said Murphy goes above and beyond the call of duty to help the veterans. "She`s really been able to engage with [veterans], and just provide that support and a listening ear," she said.
Murphy, from her experiences as a youth to her time in the Air Force, has learned to deal with the hard situations she could face as a social worker. With only a year and a half left until she obtains her degree, she said, she hopes to assist those who cannot make the voyage alone.
"I want to make a difference," she added. "One life saved is worth your entire time in the Air Force."
Photo Credit: Wikipedia