Friday, November 11, 2022

William “Craig” Malloy goes by Craig. He graduated from the University of Iowa’s School of Social Work with his MSW (master’s in social work) and was later grandfathered into the LISW program. 

Malloy is currently retired at 71 years old, and lives in Humboldt, Iowa. He is on several boards, including the Brushy Creek Honor Flight Board as the Vice President. He works with veterans frequently, and often uses the skills he learned as a social worker through his work with Honor Flights.  

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Craig Malloy (left) interacts with veterans after an Honor Flight to the Iwa Jima Marines war memorial in Washington, D.C. 

Malloy graduated from the UI alongside current Director of the School of Social Work, Mercedes Bern-Klug, who also received her MSW in December 1984. 

“It took us an extra semester. We both said we were late bloomers,” Malloy said. 

Before retirement, Malloy held several different jobs in the field of social work. After graduating from the UI, he immediately began working at the Iowa Department of Human Services as a protective service worker. 

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Malloy (center) stands with veterans in front of the Iwa Jima Air Force war memorial in Washington, D.C. 

He only kept the job for just over a year, but with significant impact. While working on an elderly abuse case, Malloy met his wife, who was a public health nurse at the time. The two were married in 1986 and have been together ever since. 

Shortly after leaving the DHS, Malloy wanted to move back to Iowa City. He then worked as a school social worker through the local Area Education Agency for a little over 23 years, before beginning his work with veterans through the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System. 

This led to Malloy becoming the Humboldt County VA director, which he held for four years before retiring and getting involved in the Honor Flight network. According to the Honor Flight website, an Honor Flight is conducted by “non-profit organizations dedicated to transporting as many U.S. military veterans as possible to see the memorials of the respective war they fought in in Washington, D.C., at no cost to the veterans.”

Malloy is a veteran himself. Before starting his journey in social work, Malloy served four years in the Navy. After his service, he went to Kirkwood Community College and met a local VA representative, who helped him receive his G.I. bill checks and eventually connected him with a paid position at the VA hospital in Iowa City, before Malloy began at the School of Social Work.  

“The VA has kind of been my family, if you will,” Malloy said. “My parents didn't have money to send me to college, so I kind of relied on the VA… they would always get me jobs, and I took advantage of the programs that were there for me.” 

Malloy has since been on 15 different Honor Flights and has interacted with several veterans who served in WWII and Vietnam. 

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Malloy rides in a parade as the Grand Marshal in recognition of his commitment to bringing vets to D.C. on Honor Flights.

An anecdote that Malloy recalls from one Honor Flight he took in 2018 involved a Vietnam veteran who Malloy sat next to on the flight. The veteran, who had served when he was only 19, was a tail gunner on a helicopter and suffered from PTSD. Malloy offered an opportunity to talk about himself and his time after serving. 

The veteran explained that with the harsh treatment many veterans received from society after returning from Vietnam, it felt like he was “in the closet” about his trauma. Malloy said the Honor Flight and the experience of landing in D.C. to a crowd of supporters allowed the veteran’s Vietnam experience to be validated. 

“He just started opening up about everything and I'm thinking to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy really needs to talk,’” Malloy said. “... In D.C. they treat you like heroes, and I think it just blew his mind.” 

The veteran later sent Malloy a letter to tell him about how he had since opened up about his PTSD and trauma to his family.  

“He was no longer ashamed of being a Vietnam vet,” Malloy said. “So that's kind of the power of these flights.” 

Malloy said his time studying social work at the University of Iowa prepared him for his role in comforting and supporting veterans on Honor Flights. 

“At the school of social work, I just remember one professor one time saying, ‘sometimes all you gotta do is be there for them and listen, maybe hold their hand,’” Malloy said. “I definitely was there for that guy …I just knew he just needed to vent and to talk, and somebody to be there for him and do affirming work.”