Jeannette Horton is working as a clinical therapist and assessor at Greater Lakes Mental Health in Lakewood, WA. She served for six years in the United States Army, joining the military right after high school. “I served in a few different locations, including Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Fort Lewis, Washington (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord). I had many experiences in the service where I was able to be supportive of others and that's how I figured out that mental health counseling was the career for me.”
Jeannette completed some college while in the service, but really started working toward her career goals after completing her military service. “I earned my Bachelor's degree and immediately began working in the chemical dependency field, while also going to graduate school. I then completed my Master's degree and have been working full time in the mental health field ever since.” To help pay for her education, Jeannette took advantage of the Army’s tuition assistance program while serving on active duty and used the GI Bill® after she left the military.
She’s proud to have earned the Army Volunteer Service Medal for work done in Afghanistan to bring school supplies to children. Back in the United States, Jeannette volunteered with the Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties, a crisis hotline that helps people in need 24/7. “I am currently considering volunteering with the Red Cross as a mental health counselor in emergency situations as well. I am a member of the American Counselor's Association (ACA) and the Association for Humanistic Psychology.”
Jeannette’s work as a clinical therapist includes providing brief therapy to adult clients. She also provides mental health assessments to get both adults and children enrolled in mental health services—while making diagnoses and screening for issues including trauma history, chemical dependency, and current life stressors.
Jeannette, who in 2011 earned a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University, Seattle, says that her military experience made her a better student. “I worked very hard in the military so that I could have my education paid for, and I didn't want to waste it so I made sure to get good grades!” She explains that her education provided real-world experience and professional guidance. “Having professors who are actively working in the mental health field was a real asset. There was an internship that gave me experience while also providing support.”
She even faced the challenging task of completing classwork online during deployment. “The Registrar's Office was very helpful with getting me enrolled for classes and jumping through the paperwork hoops to [allow me to use] my education benefits while I was overseas.” Jeannette credits her education with helping her to obtain two different mental health licenses in Washington State, providing flexibility for different kinds of jobs.
Jeannette admits that it was difficult transitioning from military life to student life. “It was hard to be 24 years old, sitting in a room with a bunch of other 24 year olds with such different experiences. Some of them were still living at home [and] I'd been to Iraq.” She tells other veterans that the transition is not easy—but neither was serving in the military. “The same rules apply for success in school as in the military. Be prepared to show up on time and work hard, and don't be afraid to look to your battle buddies and chain of command (professors and school support staff) when you need help.”
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