Today, the United States Census estimates a total of nearly 24 million veterans in the United States today. As active duty members of the armed forces continue to experience multiple deployments, service needs for the veteran have increased. Proper assessment for services such as reintegration, mental health, and housing are provided to the veteran and his or her family is available in a variety of settings and social workers are available to assist veterans through public and private programs.
Finding Assistance in the Public and Private Sectors
• Social Work Within the Veteran’s Administration (VA)
Social work has treatment responsibilities in all care areas, helping veterans and families adjust to life by developing and implementing individual treatment approaches which address veterans’ issues and promote vocational and psychosocial rehabilitation. Social workers through the VA are responsible for ensuring continuity of care through the admission, evaluation, treatment, and discharge, and follow-up processes. Social workers can make necessary referrals to outside public agencies to assist families and veterans which provide a variety of services. Case management is provided to ensure continuity of care through community mental health and other available social service resources, such as affordable housing, outside the VA.
• Private Social Work Assistance to Veterans
In addition to public programs such as the VA and ancillary services, clinical social workers in independent practice also provide private, non-governmental help for veterans and families. These clinicians in private, independent practice can assist through mental health counseling, case management, family counseling, marriage counseling, and a host of other social services. These social workers can also make necessary referrals to appropriate services available to the veteran. Private insurance helps with payment of services which is available to veterans in active duty. Veterans who are employed in the private sector can also many times use their employee assistance programs at no charge. Older, retired veterans are eligible for Medicare which also provides funding for care outside of the VA system.
Many veterans who prefer to pay for private services do so for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they may believe private services are more personal or more accessible. Others hope to retain anonymity in their pursuit of help. Whether the help is attained through the VA or through private practitioners, quality care for veterans and their families is paramount.
By many accounts, of the service members returning from deployment, an estimated 30 – 40% has reported psychological concerns. For members of the National Guard and Reserves, the number can be as high as 50%. Additionally, as hundreds of children have experienced the extended separation of one or both parents, obtaining services for family members is essential. Social workers provide much of the needed services – both in the public and private sector – and continue to assist innumerable ways.
For more information as how a social worker might assist a veteran, contact the VA, your insurance or employee assistance program for assistance.