March 11, 2016, by D.M. McCauley – Many veterans from all military branches have had the experience of receiving services and treatment at a regional or local Veterans Affairs Medical Center. When we hear about these medical centers in the news, it is often in reference to treatment that soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are receiving for service-connected injuries and disabilities. Social workers are staff members who perform important services for veterans, and can be found in all program areas. What do social workers do at VA medical centers?
VA Social workers are important advocates for veterans and have a long history of service. Among the many notable social workers, Harriet Rinaldo stands out as a social worker with distinguished service. She played a key role in establishing the post-World War II VA medical services expansion by recruiting hundreds of social workers. She is responsible for the early form of the rating procedure as well as procedures for VA recruitment and staffing. She made social work standard within the rank and file by recognizing that large organizations need individuals who can advise and assist military personnel on a personal level.
Social workers are often a first point of contact throughout all levels of government aid and assistance programs. Social workers occupy a variety of occupations and specialities at the VA. They can can advise you on how to get help from the VA or other community agencies. They also assist in applying for benefits from the VA, Social Security, and other government and veterans programs.
VA social workers, staff, and doctors work together to create treatment plans and make sure that all of your decisions are properly documented. The first step is typically to arrange a meeting with a social worker who will then ask you a variety of questions. These can include questions about your family, living situation, military service, any disabilities or conditions, and what you would like to achieve. After completing this initial meeting, your VA social worker with prepare an assessment that they will share with the rest of the health care team. This will be used by your doctors to create your personalized treatment plan.
Aside from this, VA social workers are also sometimes responsible for providing emergency counseling services in times of crisis. After this short-term care, your social worker will follow up with you about longer term services and programs.
There are a variety of circumstances in which it’s a good idea to talk to a VA social worker. The following list is courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
If any of these situations apply to you or your family, ask to see the social worker at your VA Medical Center:
● If you are having marriage or family problems.
● If you would like help with moving to an assisted living facility, a board and care home or a nursing home.
● If someone close to you has passed away and you want to talk about it.
● If you have problems with drinking or drug use.
● If you feel that someone is taking advantage of you or if you feel mistreated in a relationship.
● If you are a parent who feels overwhelmed with child care.
● If your parent or spouse is in failing health.
● If you are feeling stress because of your health or because your medical condition interferes with your daily activities.
● If you are feeling sad, depressed or anxious.
● If you really aren’t sure what you need, but things just don‘t feel right.
● Financial or housing assistance.
About the Author: D.M. McCauley is a former U.S. Navy sailor who worked in Intel. After the service he has dedicated his time to writing and traveling with his significant other.