CWLA, in partnership with Boots on Ground Consulting, Inc., is pleased to offer a Military Family Specialist Certificate in working with military members and their families.


Men and women who serve in the military volunteer to provide an essential service to society at enormous personal risk. Military members and their families are resilient and demonstrate many strengths. They also confront unique challenges. Some of the features of military life, such as deployment and combat injury or death of a service member, can have far reaching effects on the service member and the immediate and extended family as well. As military members are expected to be at the highest state of readiness to protect and defend the nation, likewise, social workers and other professionals should be prepared to provide the highest quality support and services to address challenges they and their families face as a result of their service. This distinctive certificate program will prepare professionals to understand the unique features of military life and to respond to the needs of this population with culturally competent and effective services.

How to Obtain the Military Family Specialist Certificate

Candidates for the Military Family Specialist certificate must complete six required and two elective courses. The program is designed to be flexible in meeting the needs of practicing professionals by offering on-line courses and in-person seminars. Each course provides the opportunity to earn CEU credits. A total of 97 CEU credits are needed to obtain the certificate. Holders of the Military Family Specialist Certificate are expected to complete a refresher course every three years to maintain the Certificate.

The courses provided in the Military Family Specialist Certificate program are also available to individuals interested in learning about working with current and former military members and their families without pursuing the certificate. Participants may register for one or more of the required or elective courses described below without committing to pursue the certificate.

The required and elective course offerings are listed below. For information about course schedules and registration, please visit Boots On Ground Consulting.

Required Courses

Candidates for the Military Family Specialist Certificate are required to complete the following courses:

  • Boot Camp: An Introduction to Military History, Culture, and Customs (15 CEU credits) 

This in-person course introduces participants to military life. In this module students explore the different branches of the military and their missions; the ranks and requirements to attain each rank; military benefits; and stressors unique to military life. The course includes field trips and discussions by service members and veterans.

  • Deployment I (10 CEU credits) 

This online course addresses the issues military members and their families face prior to and during the deployment of a service member. Strategies to organize, utilize support systems, and readjust to deployment are explored. Identification of the stressors faced by service members and their families and ways to support them prior to and during deployment are presented.

  • Deployment II (10 CEU credits) 

This online course addresses reintegration of military members and their families post-deployment. When service members return home, both the service member and their families must readjust. Strategies to identify the needs of service members and their families at this critical time, provide support, and promote the competency and well-being of all are explored.

  • Mental Health Issues I (10 CEU credits) 

This online course introduces participants to issues service members, veterans, their children, and caregivers may face in their daily lives. By the end of the course, participants will be able to identify signs and symptoms of substance abuse, anxiety disorder, trauma, and depression. Connecting service members, veterans, and families to community programs and resources will also be addressed.

  • Military Family Systems (10 CEU credits) 

This online course addresses: 1) the distinct characteristics of the military family system (MFS); 2) how lifespan development of the MFS is impacted by military life; 3) unique aspects and needs of the military spouse/child and caregiver experience, including kinship care; and 4) several key issues that surround the safety of the MFS such as domestic violence and child abuse/neglect.

  • Employment, Education, Homelessness, & Community Resources (10 CEU credits) 

This online course introduces students to the unique challenges service members, their families, and caregivers experience upon a service member’s return to civilian life. Skills in supporting returning veterans in their reintegration to communities and civilian life are taught.

  • Application and Demonstration of Skills to Work with Military Families (12 CEU credits) 

Candidates complete the program by returning to a military installation for a 2-day course designed to transfer learning to a practice setting. In this in-person course candidates will demonstrate skills through role play conducted with a service member and development of assessment and treatment planning related to their specific professional roles.

Elective Credits

Candidates for the Military Family Specialist Certificate are required to earn 20 CEU credits through completing two elective courses. Currently offered elective courses are listed below.

  • Mental Health Issues II (10 CEU credits) 

This online course builds upon knowledge developed in Mental Health Issues I. An in-depth examination of trauma disorders, suicide, anxiety, depression, and the treatment approaches utilized will be discussed.

  • Military Sexual Trauma (MST) (10 CEU credits) 

This online course addresses sexual trauma within the military, its affect on service members, and signs that it may be occurring. Treatment approaches and ways to best support a service member who has experienced MST are explored. This course is timely because MST has been a hidden issue within the various service branches.

  • Diversity in the Military (10 CEU credits)

Our military is very diverse. Service members come from various ethnic, racial, religious, socio-economic, and sexuality backgrounds. This online course explores the historical ways in which diversity has been dealt with in the armed services and current policies and issues surrounding diversity.

  • Women in the Military (10 CEU credits)

The number of women in the military has been steadily rising over the last few decades. Women may now officially serve in combat roles. This online course addresses the history of women in the military, the current roles women play in the military, and issues faced by women in the military including gender inequality and discrimination.

Post-Certificate Credits

Holders of the Military Family Specialist Certificate are expected to complete an online course within 3 years of receiving the Certificate to remain current in military protocol, policies, and emerging issues for military members and their families.

  • Post-Certificate Refresher (10 CEU credits)

This online course provides knowledge and skills regarding changes in military policy, protocol, and emerging issues for military members and their families. Military Family Specialist Certificate holders are expected to complete this course every three years in order to remain current on military issues and to maintain their Military Family Specialist Certificate.

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