|Two University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire social work
interns are gaining valuable experience through the Fort McCoy Army
Community Service (ACS) Family Advocacy and Exceptional Family Member
programs. As a result, they will take this information and understanding
about working with military Families with them as they embark on their
social work careers later this year.
Terry Rogalla, Fort McCoy Family Advocacy and Exceptional Family
Member program manager, said having social work interns placed at ACS is
a terrific opportunity to continue developing mutually beneficial
partnerships between ACS, the military and the community. ACS has
sponsored several higher-education interns in the past.
“We work with colleges and universities to bring social work interns or
interns from a related field, such as Family Studies programs, to get
real-life experience at Fort McCoy,” Rogalla said. “They get practical
experience, and we get an opportunity to introduce and educate new
social workers about working with military Families.”
Alyssa Knoll and Jess Tomsen are seniors pursuing bachelor’s degrees in
social work. The internships are part of their graduation requirements.
Both Knoll and Tomsen hope to work with veterans after they graduate,
either with a Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, through a government
organization such as ACS, or with a community organization.
Knoll said she hopes to work for an organization such as the Tomah VA
Medical Center or for ACS. She lives in Sparta, and the internship is
helping to show her how Fort McCoy impacts the services offered and
provided in the local communities.
“We have veterans in my Family, and, with so many veterans coming home
from war, this is a good fit,” she said. “Social workers with bachelor’s
degrees do advocacy work, and that’s what ACS provides.”
Tomsen said her goal is to work with veterans at a VA, hopefully in
“This is helping me to get familiar with the issues and the military,”
Tomsen said. “This is a great opportunity.”
Rogalla said the students will perform their intern duties two days a
week through mid December to support the ACS Family Advocacy and
Exceptional Family Member programs. Tomsen will work with the School Age
Services programs, as the youth also can benefit from social-work
support with all the issues military children have to deal with. Knoll
will work in the ACS office with Families, providing advocacy,
educational and preventive services.
“Social work is a very broad field,” Rogalla said. “Both will work with
Family Advocacy and Exceptional Family Member issues, helping to prevent
abuse, providing other social support and making a positive difference
in the lives of our military Families.”
“Even if they don’t ultimately work for the VA or a military service
organization, such as ACS, they can take this experience and knowledge
with them to the organizations they will work for and can serve as a
valuable resource to serve our military Families and veterans in their
communities,” he said.
Becky Wapp Sawyer, ACS director, said, “Having student interns is a way
of us giving back to the community and profession,” and provides another
resource to help ensure military Families can have access to the
information and services they need.
For more information about ACS, visit building 2111, or call