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Essay on Social Work Pioneer: Daniel E. O’Keefe, Ph. D.

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Daniel E. O’Keefe, Ph. D. (1914 - 1971) pioneered several areas of the social work profession, including within the United States military, National Institute of Mental Health, and the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work. Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, O’Keefe earned a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Dayton, and from Catholic University of America, a master’s of science in social work. He worked both with the Catholic Guidance Clinic in Cincinnati, Ohio and then with the Loyola University School of Social Work. The US Public Health Service Hospital in Lexington, KY—a hospital for drug addicts and general psychiatric patients—named O’Keefe director in 1940 (NASW, 2004). After the United States entered World War II,
Six enlisted men who were professionally qualified psychiatric social workers were assigned to the newly formed Mental Hygiene Consultation Service at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey. This event was the first time that military personnel who were professionally trained social workers were assigned and utilized as psychiatric social workers in a military unit. (Daley, 2009, p. 4)
This is significant, because generally, the enlisted are considered skilled trade, while officers are professionals (Military.com & Henry, n.d.). In a September, 1943 memorandum, Elizabeth H. Ross, secretary of the War Service Office, stated that enlisted men in the ranks of private or noncommissioned officer in the Army could apply to be a psychiatric social worker. Army commissioned officers could not apply to be psychiatric social workers (Daley, 2009), which means that the military did not recognize psychiatric social workers as professionals.
In 1945, commissioned status—the military equivalent of professional st...


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...ne of interior. Washington, DC: Office of the Surgeon General.
Ehrenreich, J. H. (1985). The altruistic imagination: A history of social work and social policy in the United States. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Military.com (Interviewer) & Henry, B. (Interviewee). (n.d.). Officers: Making the transition to a civilian job [Interview Transcript]. Retrieved from Military.com website: http://www.military.com/veteran-jobs/content/career-advice/job-hunting/orion-veteran-officer-job-recruiting.html
NASW Foundation. (2004). NASW Social Work Pioneers: Daniel O'Keefe (1914-1971). In NASW Foundation. Retrieved February 15, 2012, from http://www.naswfoundation.org/pioneers/o/okeefe.htm.
University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work. (2008). Doctoral student handbook: Ph. D. program. Retrieved from www.uh.edu/socialwork/_docs/phdprogram/DoctoralHandbook.doc


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