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Social Workers Link Veterans to a Range of Services

Social Workers Link Veterans to a Range of Services

Wendy J. Meyeroff, Monster Contributing Writer

Why Veterans?

A personal connection, such as having a relative who is a veteran, attracts some students, says Anne Kok, MSW, PhD, chair of the Social Work Professional Program at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay. Others become interested as they “think about…a population they really want to help,” she says.

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The VA is affiliated with more than 100 graduate schools of social work, so those who aspire to work with veterans should go through their school to arrange clinical training at a local VA hospital. Even without that in-house experience, Manske notes that “in their grad work, social workers get exposed to a variety of training.” Other than those who have focused entirely on child services, she says, “it would be unusual to find someone who doesn’t have the knowledge to work in the VA.”

Beyond the VA

Outside the VA, a number of opportunities exist for social workers to serve veterans.

Veterans may be more prevalent in rural locations, for instance. In addition, primary agencies — such as the ones listed under “Social & Human Services” or “Mental Health Clinics” in the phone book — deal with their share of dishonorably discharged vets, who do not fall under the purview of the VA. In primary agencies, services for veterans may be “folded into broader areas like a drug and alcohol program,” Kok says.

Call to Action

Advocacy is another part of working with veterans. “The complete social worker would work with [a newly disabled serviceman] on the immediate problems of depression and retraining him for another job,” Kok says. On a broader level, the social worker would then focus on ways to create jobs in the veteran’s community, even lobbying for legislation to fund job-creation, job-training and job-retraining programs.

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