What Does a Military and Veterans Social Worker Do?

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a military social worker helps veterans and service members with everything from financial support to medical assistance to stress counseling. These unique social workers provide service related to screening, advocacy, assessment, crisis intervention and case management.

Social Worker Assistant

One of the most common entry-level jobs is a social workers’ assistant. These professionals work under the direction and supervision of licensed social workers, who generally have a master’s degree. They help their supervisor counsel and support service member patients and their families with social, emotional, health and financial problems. They may travel to the client’s homes to offer resources and follow-up support. Some oversee basic assessments and case management for incoming clients, which involves data entry, reviewing forms, file maintenance and individual case plans. Most social workers’ assistants have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or social work with at least one year of hands-on experience in a health care or human services environment. Depending on the state and military agency, some are required to take basic proficiency exams or obtain certification through the National Association of Social Workers.

Military Police Social Worker

These social workers deal with military police (MP) and often specialize in either men’s or women’s social services. Military police social workers work with military court and police departments to help service members who are at risk of jail sentences. They often advocate for alternative sentencing through supervised housing and employment programs. They provide assessments, individual counseling, rehabilitation support and community case management services for service members arrested for misdemeanor crimes. Their primary goal is to avoid jail sentences, reduce recidivism rates and promote recovery and self-determination. They often work with individuals with a wide range of needs related to health, trauma, mental illness and substance abuse. Military police social workers provide case management services for between 15 to 20 clients at a time. They help their clients with accessing and enrolling in appropriate and available military resources.

Senior Specialists

Senior social workers may work as performance, quality assurance or outcomes specialists within large military or non-profit organizations. Many work in agencies that provide residential treatment and rehabilitation programs for veterans with mental illness. Those who work in quality assurance conduct collaborative internal audits of records and processes in order to verify that state and federal guidelines and requirements are met. They often review staff documentation and organizational policies to provide feedback and improvement suggestions. These social workers need a good knowledge base of private and military insurance billing requirements. Social workers who are performance outcome evaluations oversee the collection and analysis of client, service and administrative metrics. They process outcome data, prepare regular reports and ensure the compilation of client satisfaction surveys.

In closing, experienced veteran social workers may also specialize in behavioral health. These professionals provide limited cognitive treatment and behavioral interventions to military members within health care settings. They sometimes provide self-care classes related to things like stress and chronic pain management. They also deliver brief presentations to military leaders regarding current behavioral health issues and trends.