Resources for Veterans
For Veterans and Family Members
Northwest University is proud to serve military service members, veterans, and their dependents. Deployments and irregular schedules can make it challenging to complete a degree program—that's why we offer flexible online degree programs in addition to traditional campus classes.
Hear Directly From a Student
So my name is James Gibson and I graduated from the Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology Program from here, at Northwest University in 2018. Born and raised in Oregon, and held odds and ends jobs until I found my true calling. And that was joining the United States Army where I served for twenty one years. Multiple deployments, multiple combat deployments, and retired in August 2016 as a master sergeant—realized that mental health was a big portion to me.
I came back from a deployment in 2006, a different person, a changed person, and I didn't like who I was. I was having difficulty with work. I was having difficulty with family. And that's when I went and got help. And through that help sparked a passion of psychology in my own self. I decided at the time I was working on an undergrad degree and just general studies because I didn't know where I wanted to go with it and dove into psychology.
And I found I was really, really passionate about it. So when I got out of the military and retired from the military, I thought, this is a way I can give back. I know mental health care works. I know that coming from the depths of the darkness of where I was to moving towards the light and being happy and chasing that happiness, I can still do that.
With a gentle push of my wife, she said, why don't you get in psychology, become a counselor? And it just made perfect sense. And so I did. And I hunted around and I found Northwest University. I was teaching at Purdue University when we had made the decision that, hey, I need to go to grad school. And so it was simple online search. And I found a few of them and I didn't want to put all my ducks in one basket. And so I applied for for multiple programs throughout the Pacific Northwest, up from south as far south as Lacey up in here and to Seattle, Kirkland.
Through the admissions process, it was one of the easier ones. It was pretty straightforward, cut and dry. Some of the things that lean me towards Northwest right off the bat was no GRE. And for us enlisted guys coming out of the military, getting a bachelor's degree is pretty tough. OPTEMPO is usually really high in the military. And so finding the time to even dive down and get a bachelor's degree, let alone, now I've got to study and prep for a GRE and pass a GRE. And it's really time consuming. But it was lack of GRE, the single cohort concept that I absolutely—like it intrigued me at the beginning. And then through the two years that I was here doing this program, I couldn't fathom doing this program in any other way than the single cohort system that they've got. I had a couple of unique perspectives or unique scenarios or situations with the single cohort system. What it does is it provides it truly provides a safe space where I could fully say what my beliefs were without being looked down upon without anybody—
I'm not going to say challenge because that's exactly what that cohort system I believe a big portion of it is, you do, you challenge each other's views and you challenge your own internal way of thought. Now, I'm in a complete different group of people that think differently than me and challenged me to think differently. That's number one. And number two, another beautiful portion of it is you get to know everybody there and you learn what the different strengths, the benefits of working with different people in that group because they think differently. They have different cultures, have different upbringings, different backgrounds. And you really get to know that group. They become family essentially because you are spending a lot of time with a certain amount of people. It really provides some really good cohesion and continuity when you're doing group projects and moving from one class to the next to the next to the next, because then you understand what strengths, what weaknesses these people have in different groups. And it just it makes it a lot easier. And then you feel a whole lot more comfortable. The classes or nighttime classes. So I remember 6:00 to 10:00. They're hard work. I'm not going to say it's easy work.
Grad school is very difficult and it's time consuming, but a good time management skills. And the professors are very it's one of the beautiful things about going to brick and mortar school is the professors are available, you call them, you can email them and you're getting responses back pretty quick, which is a complete flip from when I was doing online classes in the army where you'd send a send a question to the professor and you might not get an answer for five or six days. Grad school, the age of the students tends to be a little bit higher.
There's a lot of us that have families, a lot of us, all the professors understood that. They understood. A lot of us are holding jobs, working 40 hours and coming to this class and doing these monster papers and reading hundreds of pages a week and trying to absorb as much information as we could. They understood that. So if you're having difficulty with something, it was just a talk with the professor and they will work something out because it wasn't about making you feel as if you had to maintain a certain standard.
It was, it seemed every professor provided you with this feeling that, hey, I'm going to draw 100% of you and I'm not going to judge your performance off of somebody else's performance. I'm judging your performance off of you. And that's kind of the way the whole program was, like that's the way it felt. So my dream role, I'm living it right now and I'm working it right now. In fact, I'm a child and family therapist with the Steven A. Cohen Military Families Clinic at Valley Cities where we provide free to low cost mental health counseling to post 9/11 veterans and their families. Through the internship program that was here, plus the internship fair and the guidance that was given by professors.
It was, it opened my mind to see, hey, it's not just PTSD. There's so much, you've got to look holistically and see that in military families are more than that. They're hey, you can do couples, like who better to do couples than you, James, because you're married for twenty two years and you spent twenty one of them in the army and working with kids. I've got three beautiful, amazing kids and Dr. Leggett and family systems changed my family because one of the things that when I came into grad school, I came out with open mind and said, whatever you teach me here and tell me that I am supposed to be doing my clients, I will do myself. And so all of this family information, all of this stuff I wrapped into my family and I started to implement in my family and I live a dream. And in fact, I think I told you when I walked in here, I do. I live a dream because I work my dream job. And the only reason I open my eyes to start looking for something in that was this program helped me say, don't pigeonhole yourself into this. And in fact, there was times where I had a couple of professors talk about two years, give yourself two years, because your passion you'll find over a couple of years is going to not be at the level that it was when you first started it. And clients deserve your 100% passion. And so I found this job.
Amazing program, amazing supervisor there. And it was because I was motivated by my counselor, by my professors here to, don't pigeonhole yourself into one thing, expand your horizons and chase your happiness. And so that's what I did. And now I found this job at this clinic. And it's a beautiful. Couple of things I know for a fact. Number one, you're going to be challenged and you're going to challenge yourself and the faculty are going to challenge you in ways that you didn't think were possible.
But they do it in a way that you don't really necessarily know you're being challenged until after the class. And you look back at where you were. The professors challenged us that on a daily basis, there's so many, so many memories I have of going, no, that's not how it works. No, no, no, no.
And then three weeks later going, you know he's right or she's right. It is like, oh, man, I never thought of looking at it like that. Or one of my favorite memories was, like I said, I was the only guy there. And I had mentioned that, you know, talk about safe space. This is an example of the safe space was I had shared something and I had said and then I cried like a little schoolgirl and my classmate sitting next to me, looks over to me and she goes, James you didn't cry like a little schoolgirl. You cried like a 41 year old combat vet. I was like, you know, you're right, because that's what I am. Expressing emotions isn't a weakness. Expressing emotions is what our body is supposed to do. That's what our mind's supposed to do. And in fact, that's probably that's top three thing that this program helped me learn was expressing your emotions is OK. And that's where that's what they're for, is to express them, is to feel them and get to understand them and know it's OK if you want to cry and know if, it's OK to be angry, it's OK to cry, it's OK to be sad. It's when we try and stuff those down that we have problems. And this program really opened my mind to that and saying, hey, it's it's OK.
And that's one of the beautiful things about that single cohort system is, you know, at the beginning it's a little awkward. But after a while you get to know each other and you understand that everybody is there for a common purpose and we're there to support each other. And you get comfortable expressing your emotions and processing some of the tough stuff that you've been through in life.
Go to NU. Go to NU! Go to this program. This counseling master's in counseling programs are just beautiful.
The process is easy, like they make admissions so simple and so easy and so like, they allow you to focus on the school work and learning. It provides truly a learning environment where I was paying for my school through the GI Bill. They would sign me up for scholarships and grants that automatically where they'd be like, oh, hey, James, here's the Yellow Ribbon Fund. Seven hundred dollars. Where did this come from? Oh, it's this scholarship program that we have for veterans. Oh, well, great. Beautiful, wonderful. And really just made it so easy to where all I had to focus on was showing up at my class, doing the work and learning. Learning and then doing the work. And that was another beautiful thing. This program never, never made me feel like it was get this assignment done and do the assignment. It's hey, let's learn some things, learn this stuff, understand and demonstrate your understanding and then we'll test you on.