When I was an active duty member of the U.S. Navy I moved up the ranks from E-1 to E-7, and that is where I retired. An E-7 in the Navy is a Chief Petty Officer and my official title was Chief Legalman. Legalman was my rating and was abbreviated as “LN.” Being a Chief Petty Officer, my official rate was LNC.
I was also qualified as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist and Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist. Those designations were listed as ESWS and EAWS and were shortened to SW and AW respectively. Thus I was LNC(SW/AW). The rate and rank came before my name so when I signed anything it was LNC(SW/AW) and then my name.
Pursuing the alphabet in front of my name was vital for advancement within the structure of the military and in truth, none of the letters came easily. It took quite a bit of studying, testing, passing oral examination boards, and experiential learning to qualify. One of the great things about the Navy is that earning the qualifications meant there was something new to add to the uniform. When you qualified, people knew it. People couldn’t help but know it because it stood out.
Now that I am retired and entering a second career as a mental health counselor, I have discovered the alphabet has shifted. No longer am I trying to gain letters in front of my name but rather behind. When I graduate in just over a week I will already have a start: “M.S.Ed” or Master of Science in Education. In a few weeks I expect positive results from the National Counselor Examination which will land me three more letters, “NCC” for National Certified Counselor.
I am already in the process of accumulating hours for Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) and will shortly begin my residency toward Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). These two will take a while as there are quite a number of hours to accrue (2000 for CSAC and 4000 for LPC) but eventually I should have M.S.Ed, NCC, CSAC, and LPC resting behind my name.
That’s a lot of alphabet.
Although the alphabet has now shifted from the front to the rear, accumulating the letters certainly has not taken a backseat. Navigating the paper labyrinth set up by the Commonwealth of Virginia to obtain licensure and certification can be vexing. If the adage, “Nothing good comes easy” is correct then the reward for successfully traversing through the paper obstacle course should be incredible. And I believe it will be.
Virginia was the first state in the nation to license counselors and in essence, set the bar for other states to follow. For anyone thinking of becoming licensed or certified in Virginia, be prepared to wade through a lot of paper. As an example, the application for LPC is 23 pages and for CSAC is 22 pages. You can place a large number of hurdles within 23 pages.
On the positive side, a person really has to want the credential to steer through the process. For me I say, “Challenge accepted.”