Social workers are an integral part of mental health care teams at VA.
These versatile professionals seem to do it all, pulling together treatment plans and providing comprehensive, personalized care to Veterans.
Did you know that VA is the largest employer of social workers in the nation? It’s true. And this month, we’re turning the spotlight on this rewarding career as part of our monthly effort to recognize a different critical-need occupation in celebration of VHA’s 75th anniversary.
A unique role
Elizabeth Kleeman is one of our licensed clinical social workers, supervising the suicide prevention team at the Michael E. Debakey VA Medical Center.
In her final year of graduate school, Elizabeth accepted a social work internship at VA. She’s now been a social worker here for more than a decade.
“By happenstance, I got into VA and I have never felt limited here,” said Kleeman. “The opportunities that we have, creativity and positions that you can take, the services that you can offer and the training that you can get are state of the art.”
She supervises the suicide prevention and Veterans justice outreach teams. These teams of social workers provide the VAMC with suicide prevention expertise and serve as liaisons between the legal system and VA.
“There is just so much you can do in the social work realm that is unique to this particular discipline,” she said.
As a VA social worker, you’ll be essential to our mission of helping Veterans and their families heal. Your role on a mental health care team is extensive and dynamic, including responsibilities such as:
- Developing specialized treatment plans that consider social, environmental, psychological and economic factors.
- Providing clinical and case management for Veterans dealing with PTSD, substance abuse, bereavement and more.
- Providing therapy.
- Managing crisis intervention and high-risk screenings.
- Delivering family education and providing educational materials.
- Acting as a patient advocate.
- Developing discharge plans and coordinating outpatient care.
“We are often consultants to the other disciplines on what impacts people’s well-being and their experience – like their marriage, their past, their childhood, their current family, their work, etc. Social justice is truly what drives us; this helps the entire team function because it calls out the blind spots,” Kleeman said.
Social workers across VA serve in a variety of settings, including primary care clinics, specialty clinics, hospitals and emergency departments, and mental health and rehabilitation units.
With more than 1,200 VA facilities across the nation, you’re sure to find a social work role that suits your skills and expertise.
Work at VA
Consider becoming part of the social work team at VA, where you can play a vital role in improving Veterans’ lives.
NOTE: Positions listed in this post were open at the time of publication. All current available positions are listed at USAJobs.gov.