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Veteran, MSW graduate helps other Wounded Warriors

Tulane University Master of Social Work Spring 2015 graduate Jeremy Brewer, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, served two deployments in Iraq from 2001-05, but the plan was always to finish his degree.

After earning an undergraduate degree in psychology, Brewer decided that a graduate degree in social work was the best way to use his experiences to help other vets transitioning back to civilian life.

“The hardest part of the transition for me was trying to find my next mission or purpose,” says Brewer, who served as an infantryman and then a four-man fire team leader. “In the Marine Corps, I knew what my mission was and what I needed to do to accomplish it. The other hard part is missing the camaraderie inherent in the service and trying to find something similar in the civilian world.”

Brewer’s graduate internship in the outpatient mental health clinic of the Veterans Affairs Hospital provided him mental health treatment experience with both individuals and groups.

“I learned a lot over there,” says Brewer. “Not only about the profession and helping people, but also about the bureaucratic side of the VA. It was a great experience.”

Brewer also worked at the St. Bernard Project where he supported the veterans in the Americorps program through their transition to civilian life by helping them set goals for after the program and helping them map out how to get there.

Brewer was so eager to continue to help his fellow veterans that he completed his 990-hour internship early to accept a position as an outreach coordinator for the Wounded Warrior Project to help open the group’s New Orleans office, which will cover Louisiana and Mississippi.

“To know that some of the things that I’ve gone through can be used to help others who are going through similar things is very rewarding,” says Brewer. “Especially with my internship at the VA, I had an advantage with our clients because I am a vet. They knew that I had been there and had some common experience. It’s been pretty awesome.”

Brewer, who has been married for 13 years, has three daughters –10, 8 and 14 months.

“I look at it now, and I don’t know how I had time for this,” he says. “I worked full-time the whole time I was in undergrad and graduate school. I wish I had a good answer for how I did it. I just took care of the thing right in front of me and then moved to the next thing.”

Published May 17, 2016. Written by Joseph Halm, Tulane PR.