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Have MSW, Will Travel

Some things, when said at the right time, stick with you.

For College of Social Work alumnus Jon Davis, one such vivid memory comes from advice professor Georgia Willey Snyder gave her students as words to live by: “Be ready, willing, and adaptive to enjoy life!” 

And Major (retired) Jon Davis  has lived by them.  His military social work career took him across the globe from Central America to Asia to Africa, and beyond.  The areas of focus in which he’s worked are even more expansive, including: medical social work, substance use disorders, family advocacy, adjustment disorders, PTSD… Maj. Davis is grateful for the solid foundation his education at the College of Social Work created for this work, noting “The generalist social work approach at the University of Utah was well worthwhile for me and opened many doors.”

After several decades of service in the military, he retired.  But it didn’t last.  Before long, Maj. Davis had worked for another decade in a psychiatric hospital in Washington state.  Again, his generalist background enabled him to successfully fill several roles during this period, both working with clients and in more administrative roles.  “Every student in a mental health-related field should have an extended experience at one of these facilities.,” he said, reflecting on the rich professional knowledge he gained. 

Retirement didn’t stick.  Again.  After a brief respite, he un-retired from the military and served for several years in Germany in the early 2000s with the Department of Army Civilians.  True to form, his responsibilities were extensive including work with PTSD interventions, family advocacy, and sexual assault response.

Now retired (once more), Maj. Davis continues to keep his eyes and ears open for new ways to use his social work background.  “I keep my Utah and Washington State LCSW/LICSW licenses and maintain my CE credits—one never knows what may be around the corner.”

A photo taken of an American military camp Korea in 1968

An American military camp near the demilitarized zone, Korea; stationed 1968 - 1970 (pre-social work)


A photo of the fort gate at Fort Lewis, Washington taken in 1976

The front gate of Fort Lewis, Washington; stationed 1976 - 1980


A photo taken of buildings in Korea in 1980

Seeing a different landscape in Korea; stationed 1980 - 1981


A military medical evacuation helipcopter in Korea 1980

Part of a medical evacuation team in The Republic of Korea; stationed 1982 - 1987


A view from the military base facilities in Madigan, Washington.

A view from the military base facilities in Madigan, Washington; stationed 1990 - 1991


Major Davis leaning on a stack of sandbags, Sinai, Egypt.

Major Davis in Sinai, Egypt; stationed 1987


The front steps of the Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Washington

The front of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Washington; worked 1990 - 2003


Schweinfurt, Germany 2008

Military garrison in Schweinfurt, Germany; stationed 2004 - 2008

**All photos provided by Jon Davis.

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Last Updated: 12/12/23