Classmates of retired Air Force veteran Sandra Thornton Baty may well have made an understatement when they said that she “has done it all in the mental health field.” Spending more than twenty years in the U.S. Air Force (USAF), Sandra has contributed to the mental health of countless veterans and their families. To mention just a few of her many accomplishments in 18 years in mental health, Sandra has:
When Sandra entered the Air Force mental health career field, all of her providers (social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.) often asked:… ‘Why aren’t you a social worker yet?’ Sandra reflected that, “when a person is enlisted working/managing 1-4 clinics in mental health, an inpatient mental health unit, taking care of all the outreach for bases with 7,000 plus people on all prevention topics, and teaching, supporting, managing 20 plus people, College had to take a back seat until I retired if I was going to see my kids growing up at all.” Sandra is the mother of two sons, Christopher and Matthew Bowe, wife of Richard Bowe and a grandmother to a young grandson.
Sandra’s dedication to her country, the mental health field, veterans, her family; and now a battle with cancer has prevented her from obtaining her MSW. This has not stopped her from demonstrating all the necessary qualities of true social worker. Combining dedication, passion and a commitment to service, Sandra has worked tirelessly in her current role as Readjustment Counselor (for Department of Veteran Affairs in the Bay County Vet Center #744) and privately to ease the pain, trauma, and aid in the recovery of veterans and their families.
Sandra has also been working intensely to gather support for S. 1798: Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011 [A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish an open burn pit registry to ensure that members of the Armed Forces who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes caused by open burn pits while deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq receive information regarding such exposure, and for other purposes]. See https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/s1798.
Although a few courses short of her MSW, the FSU College of Social Work faculty, staff and students from our Panama City program could not help but recognize that Sandra embodies the very best in social work. On Saturday, July 28th in an intimate ceremony at the Naval Coastal Systems Center in Panama City, Dean Nick Mazza, on behalf of the College recognized Sandra’s accomplishments and honored her legacy at by presenting her with a plaque. And, although Sandra’s current medical situation prevents her from continuing with the graduate program, it has not stopped her from always trying to help others.
“If she can help someone, she will,” her son Chris Bowe said. “Or she will find them the help they need.”
Dean Mazza reported that Sandra was truly pleased to learn of President Barron’s commitment to making FSU the most veteran friendly university in the nation. He added, “It was truly a privilege to be part of a ceremony honoring Sandra Thornton Baty as she shared her commitment to making a difference for her family, profession, and country. Indeed, this ceremony was a reminder that we are all unique, but all part of something much larger than ourselves.”
Learn more about the FSU Veterans Center at veterans.fsu.edu.