I’m a social worker by trade and by heart, and nowhere is that a bigger deal – or a better fit — than in the Veteran ecosystem. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs the largest number of master’s level social workers in the United States.

But, it goes beyond employment.

VA also has a significant influence on social work as a profession. A master’s degree in social work typically requires at least 900 hours of field work, and many of us in the field practiced and honed our skills at VA hospitals and facilities. This exposure makes social workers uniquely qualified to support Veterans through Veteran and military service organizations.

Why do systems supporting Veterans need social workers? Social work considers all influencing factors — impacts to the individual and entire community at large, along with the broader implications of social welfare and social justice. Veterans with complicated diagnoses require more than treatment options, such as examining the system affecting the individual. This makes social work vital to Veterans as we explore conversations in more depth using a multi-dimensional approach with creative solutions.

The profession extends well beyond analysis, particularly as social workers provide passion and ethics in a supportive environment, understanding Veteran needs from a values-based perspective and formulating solutions using a collaborative approach.

Psycharmor logo veterans social workSocial work demands understanding culture. This directly aligns with PsychArmor’s work and training, which emphasize military cultural awareness. In recent conversations with the International Military Social Work Consortium, PsychArmor aims to serve as the consortium’s education and training partner, aligning our missions to advance military social work globally.

Thank you to the social workers serving our Veterans daily — through VA and the military and Veteran Service Organizations across the Nation. I am one of you. I honor you and am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate our influence.

Dr. Tina Atherall is CEO of PsychArmor, the premier learning community for military cultural awareness. She earned her Doctorate of Social Work from the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and currently teaches in three collegiate social work programs, including Columbia University School of Social Work. Dr. Atherall’s work also includes support to The Council on Social Work Education’s military social work competency guide.

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on the part of VA. Verify information with the organization offering.

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6 Comments

  1. Manjola Prifti May 19, 2022 at 10:59 am

    I am a Disabled Army Veteran, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist as well as a clinical supervisor in Massachusetts. I think that it is important to hire and value all licensed professionals in the mental health field and not just social workers. I provide therapy for several veterans with private insurances. VA would serve better the community if they hire more veterans with appropriate education and experience in the mental health field.

  2. Mitchell Montemayor May 18, 2022 at 11:02 pm

    I have to say that the Social workers at the Memphis VA are top notch. Im a VietNam era vet with mental issues. I arrived at the VA homeless and they were able to get me housing got me to the correct providers for my mental health and diabetes. They check up on me frequently and have made me feel safe. Im truly blessed by this dedicated group.

  3. Kenneth J Johnson May 18, 2022 at 8:04 pm

    I’m sorry to inform you about the VA in Chillicothe Ohio firing me from my Social Work position with ALL fabricated allegations that removed me from the BEST job I have ever had. Serving Veterans in Community Care Homes. This was done to the majority of black employees who were targeted by a Racist Administration who were emboldened by the New President Trump

  4. Shannon Smith May 18, 2022 at 6:33 pm

    The Atlanta Georgia Area is horrible I’ve been here over 2 years and I still don’t have a social worker the VA here does nothing for their Veterans they’re dogging me out and my health and livelihood is getting worse

  5. J May 17, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    What happened to all the Social Workers in Georgia? Nobody returned your calls anymore. Atlanta VA and all the CBOCs are in denial that the shortage of Social Workers isn’t causing problems within the system. Patient Advocates cannot do it all.

  6. James Cooper May 15, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    All the social workers I have had contact with at the Martinez VA and the Concord Vet Center have been of great help. Many lingering issues I have struggled with since my tour in Vietnam (67-68) have been identified with their help. I found people I feel comfortable revealing and recognizing issues with that I stuffed for over 50 years.

    I never thought that I would need the VA for
    Anything but now know better. Their assistance has been very valuable!

    Thank you VA

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