Celebrate social workers and the VA system that empowers them

I’m a social worker by trade and at heart, and nowhere is that a bigger deal — or a better fit — than in the veteran ecosystem. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs the largest number of master’s-level social workers in the United States.

But it goes beyond employment.

VA also has a significant influence on social work as a profession. A master’s degree in social work typically requires at least 900 hours of fieldwork, and many of us in the field have practiced and honed our skills in VA hospitals and facilities. This exposure makes social workers uniquely qualified to support veterans through veterans organizations and military services.

Why Do Veteran Support Systems Need Social Workers? Social work considers all influencing factors – impacts on the individual and the wider community as a whole, as well as broader implications for social welfare and social justice. Veterans with complicated diagnoses need more than treatment options, such as examining the system affecting the individual. This makes social work vital for veterans as we explore deeper conversations using a multi-faceted approach with creative solutions.

The profession goes far beyond analysis, especially as social workers bring passion and ethics into a supportive environment, understand the needs of veterans from a values-based perspective, and formulate solutions using a collaborative approach.

Social work requires understanding culture. This aligns directly with PsychArmor’s work and training, which emphasizes military culture awareness. In recent conversations with the International Military Social Work Consortium, PsychArmor aims to serve as the consortium’s education and training partner, aligning our missions to advance military social work globally.

Thank you to the social workers who serve our veterans daily – through VA and military and veteran service organizations across the country. I am one of you. I honor you and am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate our influence.

Dr. Tina Atherall is CEO of PsychArmor, the premier learning community for military cultural awareness. She received her doctorate in social work from the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California and currently teaches in three college social work programs, including the University of Columbia. Dr. Atherall’s work also includes support for the Council on Social Work Education’s Military Social Work Competency Guide.

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services by VA. Check the information with the organization’s offer.

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