The diverse, far-reaching VA social worker profession

Odds are you’ve heard of social work, but what you may not know is how diverse and far-reaching the social work profession within VA truly is. Professional social workers are embedded within most VA departments, including primary care, the emergency department, mental health, rehabilitation units, community living centers, Vet Centers, and more.

In fact, VA is the largest employer of social workers in the nation, totaling more than 18,000 strong.

During March, VA proudly celebrates National Professional Social Work Month. This year’s theme encompasses the heart of what social workers do: Social Work breaks barriers.

This theme is reflected in VA social workers’ core mission to help Veterans, their families and caregivers thrive by working to resolve social, economic, environmental and health-related challenges.

Social workers break barriers throughout VA

Social workers are professionals with graduate degrees and professional licensure, and are overseen by each individual state licensing board. Beyond graduate education, many social workers have additional training related to their specific roles.

Large group of VA social workers

Social workers at West LA VA

Before licensure, they are required to practice under the supervision of a licensed professional social worker who reviews and discusses the challenges and opportunities of the work frequently.

VA social workers may provide counseling through mental health services, and they break barriers by connecting with a Veteran and helping them work through trauma experienced during their military service. That same social worker might connect with a female Veteran who opens up about not seeking women’s health services because she experienced military sexual trauma.

To break that barrier, they reach out to the women’s health clinic social worker and create a warm handoff so this Veteran can receive much-needed care.

Social workers not only work in the VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices and beyond, but they also work in VA Vet Centers embedded in our communities. They offer more easily accessible mental health support to Veterans, service members—including National Guard and Reserve components—and their families.

Social workers at Mobile Vet Centers

Social workers also break barriers at using Mobile Vet Centers by providing outreach to eligible individuals in communities that are distant from existing services and in emergencies.

Social workers are also involved in VA’s Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS) Program for deployment of clinical and non-clinical staff to an emergency or disaster. Social workers functioning in DEMPS break barriers, such as they did in 2022, by deploying to the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center to assist in getting homeless Veterans on the path to permanent housing.

Whether arranging service member benefit payments, connecting homeless Veterans with housing resources, or counseling Veterans with injuries or trauma, VA social workers impact millions of Veterans’ lives.

Connect with VA social workers

If you want to learn more about VA social work, visit www.socialwork.va.gov.

If you or someone you know would like to talk to a VA social worker to help break barriers, call your local VA facility to learn about services available.

Hear from VA social workers

To learn more about VA social work careers, visit www.socialwork.va.gov/VA_Employment.asp or hear from VA social workers using the links below:

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