When a Veteran struggles with finances, transportation, mental health, accessing services and readjusting, it’s often a VA social worker there to assist.
Veterans receive help through a network of more than 16,200 masters-prepared social workers. VA is the largest employer of social workers in the nation and trains more than 1,500 social work trainees annually.
Veterans receive assistance in many ways through VA social workers. Their primary focus is assisting Veterans, their families, and caregivers in resolving social determinants of health challenges to health and well-being, using a person in environment perspective. Veterans, active duty, their families and caregivers, and the community receive high quality biopsychosocial interventions and programming, part of VA’s mission.
In 1984, the White House officially recognized the month of March as National Professional Social Work Month, to acknowledge extraordinary contributions made by America’s social workers. The 2021 National Professional Social Work Month theme is, “Social Workers Are Essential.” This year’s theme focuses on the daily extraordinary efforts of social workers in communities across the nation; specifically, their call-to-duty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Veterans had rapidly changing needs. VA social workers used technology to provide critical interventions for Veterans, their families and caregivers. Veterans in Community Living Centers and inpatient programs needed a substantial increase in services. Veterans in these living arrangements participated in absentee voting through the help of social workers.
Vulnerable Veterans in need of food, housing, shelter, and safety received help through social workers in VA’s homeless programs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, social workers participate in local food drives, delivery of necessities, and assisted with housing stability for this population. COVID-19 support groups through VA social workers help Veterans with isolation and increase connection.
Veterans needed safe and effective individual and group visits. Vet Center social workers quickly adjusted their practice to continue these services using technology and outdoor spaces. Veterans also received support through mobile Vet Centers during the pandemic, thanks to social workers.
Veterans continue to need help. VA social workers continue to provide essential work and dedication to our nation’s heroes, their families and caregivers. Veterans are seeing the 2021 theme in action: “Social Workers Are Essential.”
Story courtesy National Professional Social Work Month Committee