Salutes & Awards

April 19, 2012

NASW selects Social Worker of Year

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Story and photo by Natalie Campbell
Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center PAO
JudyPike

On March 30 in Tucson, Judy Pike was honored with the Social Worker of the Year Award by the National Association of Social Workers Branch II, Southern Arizona Chapter.

Col. William Moran, commander of Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, commended Pike, “This is well deserved recognition for Ms. Pike who is an exemplary team member of RWBAHC. She is indeed a consummate professional and always ensures every Soldier and family is treated with respect and dignity.”

Pike has dedicated herself to social work for the last 30 years, and has worked at RWBAHC as a supervisory social worker since 1993. She has worked for the Army Medical Activity starting in October 1986, where she started in the Army Substance Abuse Program. She currently works in Family Advocacy, where she works with families at risk, cases dealing with child and sexual abuse.

When she was 11, Pike made the decision to dedicate her life to helping others, and at that early age, she was known as the “family social worker.” During her college years, she was an advocate for civil rights, and from 1966 to1969 she taught English as a second language in Sfax, Tunisia, with the Peace Corps.

Pike graduated from the University of Minnesota, School of Social Work, in 1972. She worked as a medical social worker in a hospital setting and as a therapist in a rural community. Shortly afterward, she started teaching at Cochise College in Sierra Vista where she developed a program for incest offenders and their spouses.

Pike loves working with Soldiers, and her son has served 10 years in the Army. Many Soldiers, family members, and civilians at Fort Huachuca have benefitted from her skill and compassion.

“I chose to work on Fort Huachuca so that I could work with Soldiers and their families. I wanted to continue to serve my country as I did in the Peace Corps. Working for the Army, I could be a social worker with Soldiers and their families and also serve my country at the same time. John Kennedy said it, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.’”

Pike emphasized empowering people who are struggling, helping others on their journey, as what keeps her motivated. “What really motivates me is that I work primarily with people who are struggling with issues. They are brave enough and courageous enough to share those with me, and we get to work together to find a way to deal with them,” she explained.

She enjoys teaching skills that will help others lead a more fulfilling life. “I do a lot of skill teaching, like standing up for yourself, and speaking clearly: like instead of saying to others ‘You did this wrong!’ instead [try] saying, ‘I’m feeling put down when you talk to me like that.’”

The social worker stressed that positive energy and a proactive approach is vital when working with others to help them find ways to deal with issues. “If I have positive energy, good things happen. And if I turn that into nega

tive energy, bad things happen. So my goal is to look at a situation and see, how can I work with this Soldier, acting as a guide, to work with the Soldier as a team, to bring something positive out of a lousy situation.”

Pike cites an example of how she challenges others to turn something negative into a positive: “My feeling is, and I’m going to say this just like I say it to Soldiers, is that life hands you crap. Deployment, child abuse, whatever it is. And you have two choices. You can let it stink up your life or you can turn it into fertilizer.”

Visualization has a strong therapeutic effect. She encourages people to imagine an invisible backpack that they actually carry literally filled with all the “crap,” emotional issues, that life hands you. Pike suggests that people leave the bag on the ground by the door before they enter her office.

“They can choose to pick it up and take it with them when they leave, or they can leave it there for good. It’s up to them.”




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