Contests

2017 Orange Honors | Stephanie Bureau

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Stephanie Bureau

Earning my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling would not only positively impact my life, but my community as well. I currently work at an in-patient treatment facility for children. I love seeing the positive changes that these children go through on their way to recovery. In this position, I do not have a direct influence on the children’s treatment, but by receiving my master’s and then license I will be able to have a more direct impact on a person’s recovery. Once I become a Licensed Professional Counselor I plan on helping military families which are at a high risk of developing mental health issues because of the extent of the current wars and the military culture itself. As a military spouse, I see how overlooked families, and spouses especially, are in research about mental health. When I first started as a military spouse I had a rough time. My anxiety got out of control and my expectations for myself were unrealistic. I wish I had someone there who understood where I was coming from and the challenges I was facing to help me through it. My goal is to be that person for someone else.

By getting this degree I will be able to share the things I have learned as a military spouse. I can help others develop the self-esteem, self-worth, and independence that I struggled with early on. The struggles made me realize what my limitations were, but also where I had grown. It helped me when we found out my husband was deploying. I knew that, while it was going to be hard, I had the ability to survive – and thrive – on my own. Not everyone is at this point when a deployment starts or even when the marriage starts. Some people need some guidance and support to get to this place. I understand the struggles that are common in this culture. I had to move by myself, I started a new job in a new place and I am taking graduate-level classes. I have had to figure out and deal with vehicle issues, dog injuries, and home repairs to name a few of the many issues that came up. Working full-time, going to school full-time, volunteering and keeping everything running at home on top of trying to maintain your relationship with an absent spouse more than enough to burn anyone out, but it can be done. The biggest thing I have learned as an Army wife is to give yourself grace. As much as we would like to be Wonder Woman, it is not going to happen 100% of the time. And that is OK. We are our own individual person with our own individual strengths and weaknesses.

There is a link between social support and resilience. The military is always saying how spouses need to be resilient to the point that everyone is sick of hearing the word, but they rarely talk about how to be resilient. I really want to be able to help military families learn to be resilient and then find their inner strength to take it to the next level and be tenacious. While I can be a mentor for new spouses without any degree, this route allows me to go deeper and help the underlying issues that they may be struggling with. One of the things I have learned through this degree program is finding a person’s strengths and using it to build resilience. There’s a quote by Maimonides that says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. I do not just want to teach spouses how to handle individual problems, I want to give them the confidence and independence to handle any situation that comes their way.

By receiving my master’s degree I will have the ability to help other military families cope with the stress of military life, handle grief, overcome PTSD, survive deployment, and thrive at a new duty station. I will be the person that I needed when I first got married and was thrown into this new culture with its own language. I can be more than a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on; I can help people understand their emotions and make rational sense of their experiences. That is how getting my degree will positively impact my life; knowing that I am having a positive influence on our heroes, who risk their lives for us, and the people that support them.

 

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