Social workers play a critical role in the lives of veterans, many of whom suffer significant physical and mental health problems, along with financial insecurity and housing instability. By working with one of the nation’s most under served communities, social workers can acknowledge the extraordinary sacrifices these veterans have made, while also making their post-combat lives more fulfilling. Detailed below are a few ways in which a professional with a social work online degree can advocate for veterans.
Applying for Veterans Affairs Benefits
Many veterans struggle to access the wide range of VA benefits for which they are eligible. Social workers guide veterans through the entire process, ensuring that all veterans are able to access the benefits they require. In addition to assisting veterans with VA benefits, social workers can guide them through other relevant program applications, which can otherwise be confusing.
For veterans, catastrophe does not end after they’ve departed combat zones. Many experience devastating crises long after they return home. These vary considerably from one veteran to the next, but could include mental health emergencies, drug overdoses, or homelessness. In such situations, veterans require immediate aid. Unfortunately, it can take veterans weeks, months, even years to access the support they so desperately need. Through crisis intervention, social workers can provide immediate relief for those who need it most.
Support for Veterans with Mental Health Issues
Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health problems are unfortunately common among veterans, who face not only horrific memories from their time in combat, but also difficulties with integrating back into everyday life. Social workers help struggling veterans find the mental and emotional support they need. For veterans in the midst of mental health crises, social workers can stage interventions and obtain immediate support.
Many social workers focus on the day-to-day matters of caring and advocating for veterans, but others focus on the bigger picture. Through legislative advocacy, social workers are able to promote local, statewide, and federal policies that benefit the entire veteran population. These policies include increased funding for the VA system, along with the promotion of valuable housing and education programs.
Shaping Public Opinion
Legislative efforts are more likely to prove successful if the public sides with social work advocates. Thus, many social workers and social work organizations put a great deal of effort into public advocacy. They partner with newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and other media outlets to highlight important stories about the veterans they serve. Increasingly, social workers utilize social media, in hopes of alerting the public to their efforts both on a local and national scale.
From crisis intervention to legislative outreach, social workers use a variety of strategies to provide veteran clients the support they need. Their passion and hard work has not gone unnoticed by veterans and the population at large.