Story by Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Lowry
Eight Korean social workers visited Hoosier organizations to better understand ancillary soldiering aspects like resilience, psychological help, family needs, civilian employer relations, and returning to civilian life after deployments.
During a five-day stay in Indiana kicking off on Veterans Day, the Korean social workers visited the Indiana University School of Social Work, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Purdue University's Military Family Research Institute, American Legion National Headquarters, and finally on Friday, the Indiana National Guard.
"The goal, basically, was to give them a wide range of perspectives to incorporate," said James G. Daley, an associate professor at Indiana University.
As little as three years ago, the Korean military had no social support systems, said Daley. Korea relies on conscription of able-bodied men for at least 22 months to fill its military ranks.
The Korean military used Daley's 1999 book, “Social Work Practice in the Military,” as a starting point.
"They are very good about building this up, so they can take back this, from the National Guard in particular, a lot of the programs that you folks have. It's a real win-win scenario," said Daley.
The Koreans learned about the Indiana National Guard's Civil-Military Affairs Directorate, which includes 12 separate sections, during Friday's daylong visit to Tyndall Armory in Indianapolis.
Indiana is doing very well as far as incorporating mental health, family and veterans programs, said Inyoung Han, a professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea.
Seeing how the Indiana National Guard works, Han was taken with its leadership.
"The leadership within the Indiana National Guard, they are a very integrated leadership to make sure the military and family function together," said Han.
Lt. Col. Marcus H. Thomas, who briefed the Koreans during their National Guard visit, noted the exemplary standard set by the Indiana National Guard.
"The Korean Military Social Work Team turned to the National Guard because they felt the Korean citizen-soldier model closely matched our National Guard model," said Thomas, director of Indiana's family programs. "Through their own professional networking and research, they determined that Indiana stood out with proven results, programs and best military social service practices."
Thomas said he sees the Indiana National Guard and Korean military working together in the future to enrich the countries’ service members and their families.