For students who may be undecided about which direction to take in their social work career, here’s a look at what it’s like to work with veterans.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 11 percent of the adult homeless population are veterans. Many of them are male and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse. Additionally, more than 1.3 million of veterans are at risk of becoming homeless. The challenges plaguing veterans today are vast and create a strong demand for trained professionals who can help. That’s where social workers come into play.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is one of the many places that employ social workers to work with both veterans and their families. These social workers aid veterans in a range of issues from applying for VA benefits and battling addiction to dealing with marriage problems or moving to a nursing home facility. According to the VA website, “social workers are responsible for ensuring continuity of care through the admission, evaluation, treatment, and follow-up processes.”
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has also recognized the need for trained social work professionals in the area of military and veteran affairs. To that end, NASW is a proud member of Joining Forces — a comprehensive initiative created by Dr. Jill Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama to bring attention to the unique needs of military families. According to its website, “Joining Forces is a nationwide initiative calling all Americans to rally around service members, veterans, and their families and support them through wellness, education, and employment opportunities.”
As a member of this initiative, one of the ways that NASW contributes is by providing free online courses and training for social workers working with the veteran population. Among the topics covered in NASW’s coursework are community resources available to veterans and military families, dealing with trauma, military culture and more.
Chosen as a Top-25 Best College for Veterans, Limestone College understands the demanding and transient nature of a career in military. In addition to offering a tuition discount of close to 50 percent for military services personnel, Limestone College also trains a powerful fleet of social workers who are prepared to take on the challenges faced by veterans and military families head on.
For example, Limestone partners with a number of social services agencies in South Carolina that cater to military personnel, providing opportunities for social work students to get hands-on internships as part of their field practicum curriculum. Additionally, a number of Limestone’s social work faculty have worked in the area of military social work including professors Timothy Hanshaw and Chuck Kuhn.