Joe Crego, M.S.W. ’12, can relate to veterans because he is one himself.
by Kurt Gottschalk“Life experience makes you say, ‘OK, I want to do that.’”—Joe Crego, M.S.W. ’12
Joe Crego, M.S.W. ’12, has always gone where his interests drew him. As a child, he was so fascinated with aircraft that his father used to drive him to the airport to watch planes take off and land. After high school, Crego enlisted in the U.S. Navy and trained as an aircraft structural mechanic. He also had a desire to help others, so, after serving in the military, he turned to social work.
As a substance abuse counselor in Waterbury, Connecticut, he was looking to augment his experience on the job with the education he’d get in an M.S.W. program. “I was looking for family therapy programs,” he said of his discovery of Adelphi. “I started to do some research on what was out there.”
Driving from Connecticut to Adelphi’s Hudson Valley campus twice a week, he learned “the skills needed to reach out to a greater population of people and people with a broad range of psychological illnesses,” he said. “It opened my eyes to a lot of their needs and how a community impacts the individual.”
Having graduated from high school in 1983, he was older than the average graduate student, although the age gap in social work, he said, wasn’t as pronounced.
“Most people in the program were nontraditional students,” he said, adding that most social workers don’t make a conscious decision to join the profession: “Life experience makes you say, ‘OK, I want to do that.’”
After earning his M.S.W. in 2012, Crego saw a job posted for a veterans counselor. Suddenly he saw his two careers merging into one. He’s now working as a readjustment counselor at the Danbury Vet Center in Connecticut, helping vets acclimate to civilian life, regardless of how long they’ve been out of the service. He’s also a doctoral candidate at The Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago, taking online courses and going to the Illinois campus twice a semester. One of the most important lessons he’s learned along the way, he said, is to be honest about his own experience. While he did serve in the military, he never saw combat, something he’s up front about with his clients.
“I let the veterans teach me where they are,” he said. “I’m very open that I’ve never seen action. The basic language we have, we both understand.”
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