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Army Social Worker for the Year: Lt. Col. Etheridge

Two military personnel, wearing masks, holding a crystal award Army Col. Dean Hommer, deputy commanding officer, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, presents Army Lt. Col. Liquori Etheridge, chief of the Department of Behavioral Health, WBAMC, with the Army Social Worker of the Year Award. (Photo by Vincent Byrd, Wm. Beaumont AMC.)

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Army Lt. Col. Liquori Etheridge isn't normally a man of few words but, after winning the Army's Social Worker of the Year for 2020, he was left speechless. Etheridge, who works in the Department of Social Work at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Ft. Bliss, Texas was named the Army's Social Worker of the Year for 2020.

The award is presented annually to active duty social workers in the field of 73A (Social Worker). The award recognizes one officer from lieutenant to captain and one officer from major to colonel; the social worker is selected by a panel appointed by the Social Work Consultant to the Surgeon General.

Etheridge, who has been a licensed clinical social worker for 11 years, was directly responsible for managing over 400 Joint Commission Behavioral Health standards, compliance for 2018 The Joint Commission (TJC) findings, and updating the WBAMC 18-05 policy focused on the National Patient Safety Guideline (NPSG) 15.01.01, reducing risk for suicide. His contribution and efforts greatly contributed to WBAMC’s stellar performance during the behavioral health portion of the TJC survey.

"The mental health field can take a mental and emotional toll on providers. Social workers often focus so much on caring for the needs of others that they neglect themselves," Etheridge said.

Etheridge's dedication to social work and helping those in need was recognized in 2018 as he was nominated and selected by senior leaders and his peers to be the 73A Deputy Consultant.

“I initially wanted to become a psychologist, but during my OIF deployment I met a division behavioral health officer who was a social worker," Etheridge said. "He was instrumental in explaining how the field of social work contributed to sustaining a ready force by providing for the mental and emotional needs of the force. I understood the impact years of combat had on Soldiers and family members."

"I felt that I could serve in a different capacity by meeting the psychological and emotional needs of our population," Etheridge said.

Etheridge credited the people who have mentored him during his career as a social worker. "I have several military mentors like Dr. Dexter Freeman, Colonel Nathan Keller, Colonel Steve Lewis, and Colonel Jeffrey Yarvis," he said.

Paying it forward, Etheridge, who now has ten years of active duty military service himself, mentors other fellow social workers by providing guidance on career progression in social work and clinical psychology.

"Lieutenant Colonel Etheridge has been a model for other social workers to emulate throughout his career. He is emblematic of today's multi-talented leader-warrior-clinician-scholar that our Corps wants to produce. Etheridge is very deserving of this prestigious award," said Jeffrey Yarvis, PhD, and licensed clinical social worker for the Department of Social Work at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.

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