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New Staff Spotlight: Mr. Joel Wendel

Social Work is his game!
New+Staff+Spotlight%3A+Mr.+Joel+Wendel
Joel Wendel
I grew up in Bountiful Utah.  Graduated from Bountiful HIgh.  Go BRAVES!!!
     I am married.  My wife’s name is Annette.  We have three children.  Alex, who is 28  and married.  He is attending the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Utah to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  Spencer, who is 26.  He has a degree in Diesel Mechanics.  And Abigail, who is 22.  She lives in Washington State.  My wife is the Infection Prevention Nurse for LDS Hospital and likes to drive her red convertible super fast with the top down.
     I have a 4 year degree in Psychology, focusing on Child issues with a Minor in HIstory.  I have a Master’s Degree from the University of Utah from the Graduate School of Social Work.  I am also a graduate of several Army and Air Force Schools, including the Reserve Officers Training Course.  There are multiple pathways to become a commissioned officer and my route was to get an advanced degree and then to be commissioned to fill the need at a local unit.
     I’ve had two career/work experience tracks.  In the Military, I have been a Finance NCO, a qualified Instructor working at the 6232nd USAR School at Fort Douglas, a NCOIC for the S-1 shop for  the headquarters of the 91st Division, a Training NCO for the 395th Finance Bn, and a Finance Instructor at Fort Douglas.  After my Army career, I was recruited by the Utah Air National Guard, Commissioned a Captain, and Served as the Mental Health Social Worker for the 151st Air Refueling Squadron for 5 years.  I retired as a Captain in 2011 after 29 years of service with 26 good years for retirement.
    My civilian career has focused on providing mental health services for children, teens, and families.  I spent five years at a Group Therapist at The Children’s Center, one year internship at The Road Home (Salt Lake Homeless Shelter), one year internship at ACES (Acute Children Extended Services), two years as a Certified Social Worker working in Foster Care for a private agency, seven years in private practice providing services to children in Foster Care which included four years as the Clinical Director for a Teen Boy’s Group Home, two years as the Residential Director for The Children’s Center, and then 14 years back in Private Practice.  In the summer of 2023 after 30 years of providing clinical therapy services, I shut down my private practice and came to work at the BEST SCHOOL IN THE STATE –  Utah Military Academy!!
     I was looking for more steady employment and was not satisfied with the jobs that I was being offered.  After two months of searching, my wife suggested that we go camping at Pineview Reservoir.  I set up my RV on a Wednesday and an imposing man set up his RV just after I finished.  I casually waved and briefly talked to him over the next two days.  On the third day, I went across to talk to him at his picnic table.  When I asked him what he did for a living, he responded that he was the Principal of the Utah Military Academy – Hill Airforce.  I burst out laughing and said, “You are looking for a social worker, aren’t you??? (as I had seen the job posted during my search over the previous two months).  He looked at me with a puzzled look and said, “Why yes, we are.  Are you a Social Worker????”.  So I had my first interview right there on the picnic table.  Five days later I interviewed with the Staff at UMA.  And I was offered the job.
     My position at UMA is the Clinical Social Worker.  I provide Mental Health Screenings and assessments of Cadet needs.  I am the designated Homeless Liaison for UMA-HF.  I run the weekday and weekend food program for Cadets.  I also provide clinical supervision for our interns and coordinate with several local agencies and other UMA social workers to meet Cadet needs.
     I have many hobbies which typically drive my wife crazy because they fill up our house.  I am into stunt kites, model trains and building railroads, performing music in sacred and popular/pop settings, model rockets, racing model cars, and toys of all kinds for kids to play with.  I like to build things with my hands and use all sorts of items to build things.  I like to decorate my house for the holidays (My wife made me say that).  I also provide service in my religious congregation.
     I like to meet and engage Cadets and learn their stories.  I am often amazed at the resiliency and strengths that our Cadets have demonstrated to survive and thrive in this modern age.  It is my privilege to provide service and support to them as they move forward in life and build strengths upon strengths.  GO UMA!!!!!

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