If you’ve never worked with a social worker through the VA before, you might be asking yourself, “how do I get a VA social worker?” While the process may seem daunting, it’s actually quite easy and straightforward.
What Does a VA Social Worker Do?
To put it briefly, VA social workers are a voice for at-risk veterans and their families. They know how the system works and how best to navigate it.
Social workers are available in all program areas in VA medical centers and can help you directly with many situations such as:
- Long-term case management for veterans who have complex medical concerns
- Advocacy to ensure you’re getting access to the care and support you need
- Educating you and your family members on your health care options, VA services and programs like housing assistance or other benefit programs, support groups, and other ways to keep you well and thriving
- Emotional support through individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy.
And the best part? If they are unable to help you directly, VA social workers know who to get you in contact with to make sure you get the care you need.
VA social workers are trained in various fields so that they can help you when you need it the most.
How Can a Social Worker Help Me?
No matter what, VA social workers will be happy to meet with you to discuss any problems you might be facing.
- Step 1: Meet Your Social Worker – The first step in the process is to meet with a social worker. They are available to help you at your local VA Medical Center.
- Step 2: Discuss Your Needs and Health Goals – Once you have met with your VA social worker, the next step is usually to assess your situation together. VA social workers will sit down with you to ask a few questions about your health, living situation, family support, military experience, and whatever issue you’re currently facing.
- Step 3: Make a Plan – With your help, your social worker can write an assessment that will help you and your VA healthcare team create treatment plans that are personalized and right for you.
VA social workers are aware that some problems can’t wait. Should you find yourself in a crisis situation, social workers can provide you with counseling and other support services to help you navigate your crisis. If your needs require long-term help, social workers can help you apply for VA services or community programs to meet your unique needs.
Additionally, VA social workers can help veterans who are at high risk, such as homeless veterans, veterans who have been admitted to the hospital multiple times, and veterans who are no longer able to provide for themselves.
Here are just a few ways in which VA social workers can assist you:
- Finding Housing Assistance – Are you a first-time home buyer? Looking to refinance your home through a VA loan program? VA social workers can help you apply for various VA housing benefits and make the process a whole lot easier.
- Creating End of Life Directives – It’s important that your doctors are up to date on any advance directives (sometimes called a living will). VA social workers can help guide you through many tough decisions about your end of life care.
- Processing Marriage or Familial Issues – VA social workers know that your home life can make a huge impact on your health and wellness. You might not feel safe in your living situation or, you may feel overwhelmed by childcare or relationship issues. VA social workers are here to provide support for you during emotionally draining times.
- Planning Discharge Arrangements – VA social workers can help you plan your discharge back to your home or community. They can provide help with continuity of care through all parts of your treatment too, so don’t hesitate to ask for their help.
- Managing Patient Care – If you face a complex medical condition or need additional support when you are admitted to a hospital, VA social workers are available to coordinate a variety of different services such as counseling and support services. They can also help you figure out what type of support you may need and how to get it.
- Advocating for Veterans – It’s not always easy to navigate the VA, so VA social workers are there to stand up for you at every turn. If you feel like you need help advocating for your care, please request a VA social worker so that they can advocate on your behalf.
Who Qualifies for VA Assistance?
Any veteran can seek assistance from a VA social worker. To apply, simply visit your local VA Medical Center.
Additionally, VA social workers also work with the families of veterans to ensure that they can navigate the system as well. Whether it be helping find in-home care, discovering financial benefits and resources, or even coping with an illness, VA social workers are there to make decisions easier for both veterans and their families.
How VOASW Can Help
No matter the problem you face, Volunteers of America Southwest is here to provide services to improve the quality of life for vulnerable individuals and families. We work to create a safe, healthy, and productive community where families are strengthened, people live with dignity, and human potential is realized.
We want to meet you where you are and walk side-by-side with you on your difficult, emotional journey towards a transformed life.
To learn more, reach out to a VOASW member today.
US Department of Veterans Affairs. VHA Social Work. https://www.socialwork.va.gov/
US Department of Veterans Affairs. What VA Social Workers Do. https://www.socialwork.va.gov/socialworkers.asp
US Department of Veterans Affairs. About VA Social Work. https://www.socialwork.va.gov/about.asp