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Social Work and the Military

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Essay title: Social Work and the Military

Social workers in all branches of the military are helping families and military personnel prepare for, and cope with, the hardships of war. They do so through a range of preventive and clinical services provided by the Veteran Administration with many different types of programs, including family-support and mental-health counseling. The mission statement of the VA Social Workers is to eliminate significant barriers to clients in need and offer interventions for veterans and families. It is accomplished by developing and maintaining integrated, in-depth programs in patient care, research, and education.

When men and women are off to war, or serving the United States Military somewhere out in the world, social workers in the Department of Veteran Affairs are trained and educated to help our soldiers and their families stay physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy throughout each day. Social workers can be found at local VA Health Administration Branches in almost every state, and as well in-country bases occupied by American Forces located throughout the world. There are roughly 3,700 social workers in the Veterans Affairs Health Administration to date. This number shows huge growth from the original 14 that began over 80 years ago.

Social workers specialize in treating all types of clients. Regardless of their specialty, all social workers have common tasks. When they get new clients, social workers, both in the military and in the civilian world, ask clients questions to identify their problems, concerns, and needs. Social workers collect information, such as employment, school, military, and medical records, and they will successfully determine the situation of the person or family they are providing help to. For some clients, social workers arrange for medical or psychiatric tests. War and military life is tough on everyone within a family unit. Medical tests help show disabilities that a person might have on the outside, while psychological tests can help show damages that are kept inside of a person. The more information that is known, the better the chance there is of finding a plan of action to help a client in need. Information is provided by a series of interviews given by the social worker, and is used to determine the clients and families needs. Now, the social worker will use all of this information provided, and write an assessment that will help the client and VA health care team make treatment plans.

The next step for a social worker in the VA is to prepare a treatment plan. Social workers and clients discuss specific needs and work together in implementing goals that both the client and social worker work together in accomplishing. To monitor the progress in reaching the set goals, scheduled meetings are used to talk with and counsel clients. This is referred to as the intervention stage of engaging the client. Both, the client and the social worker have to work very hard at accomplishing the goals set for the in the contract. Through discussion, if it is realized treatment plans are not working and goals are not being met, then many times, modification of the plan is necessary. Social work is very dynamic and works around the countless obstacles that may appear within the daily lives of the client. Social workers provide, and receive ongoing feedback and try to meet the client where they are in treatment, not where the social worker desires them to be. This is referred to as self-determination. There is no set limit of time while involved in specific cases.

After the intervention and treatment plan, the focus now turns to the evaluation of the client and looks at how the treatment will help the client in the future. For instance, if a family member was admitted to a VA or Community hospital, the social worker will help make plans for the discharge back into the home and community. If health services are needed in home-life, or if a client cannot live at home by oneself, the VA social worker will make arrangements to help the client's needs. VA social workers often provide long term case management services to veterans who are of high risk of further hospital treatment. Those veterans who have complex medical problems and are in need of more help and support can work with the social worker to find out how arrangements can be made for future assistance. VA social workers specialize in this type of help. They provide many services and are very helpful in answering questions and giving advice.

Social Work in the Department of Veterans Affairs has been doing a fantastic job since 1925. The first year staffing consisted of fourteen social workers who were placed in psychiatric hospitals and twenty-two placed in regional offices throughout the country. Currently there are over 3,600 social workers on staff throughout the Nation. The work has evolved into a professional service for our troops, veterans, and their families

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