The area of social work that is most appealing to me is readjustment counseling, with a specific emphasis on working with veterans. The goal of readjustment counseling is to aid in the successful transition of veterans from the military to civilian life. This may range from simple guidance in employment or education to more complex instances of offering to counsel for those that experienced trauma and feel the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), where I would like to work, oversees a range of Vet Centers, hospitals, and programs nationwide that offer different types of counseling based on the needs of the patients, as well as extended outreach programs into the communities that may offer benefits and services. The VA is a government public agency (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, n.d.). Another relevant organization is Hope for the Warriors, which is a national nonprofit private organization that offers comprehensive support programs for veterans and family members with a focus on transition, wellness, and connection to community resources. The VA and readjustment counseling within it often has the experience with military vets due to decades of accumulated research and practice guidance, as well as many of the social workers being veterans themselves.
Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers that offer a wide range of social and psychological services, including readjustment counseling. The services are offered to eligible veterans, active-duty servicemen, and families of those categories. Readjustment counseling is focused on the transition into civilian life, so it will provide opportunities for macro practice since, as a professional and part of the general process, I will have to do significant community outreach and research.
Looking at the community of my residence, I would say I am in an urban and suburban environment. The advantage is that there is a wholesome population of veterans in the area attempting to settle down and start jobs or education. Urban areas typically offer much more potential in that sense than rural areas, which is better for the transition process and mental health. However, a disadvantage of this is that there is a much greater demand for veteran services and counseling, with many veterans not receiving or having to wait a long period to get help through their well-deserved VA benefits. In practice, I may be faced with situations of having to ask both closed and open-ended questions. An example of a close-ended question is “are you experiencing suicidal thoughts recently?” to which the answer will be a direct yes or no. However, an open-ended question is something likes, “how would you describe your feelings today?” where the patient must elaborate on the answer.
Working with families of veterans, I think the primary means of support needed will be emotional and information. Family members may find it difficult to understand the challenges that the veterans are experiencing as well as adapt to new contexts such as having to relocate or make socioeconomic changes perhaps. In turn, this may reflect on family relationships. In the context of readjustment counseling, which I value for its effectiveness, is that it balances the emotional aspects with the rational ones of taking concrete steps for the veterans’ transition. I believe that I would rather lead a group, particularly for treatment. This is based on my personal approach to social work and the job, where I want to help people directly. I want to dedicate myself to aiding veterans and families in navigating these challenging times. The professional organization that can be highly helpful in the described settings and contexts is the Association of Veterans Affairs Social Workers (AVASW). It provides much guidance, collaboration, education, and advocacy for employees or issues that affect VA social work.
In order to aid veterans in the transition, I have to understand both their needs as well as how they fit into the local community, providing guidance on how they and their families can adjust and begin living stably. The salary for this position starts at around $33,000, with the median salary being $68,789 and the potential to make $75,436 (Glassdoor, 2020). The starting salary is on the low side, but knowing that the field is rapidly developing, recognizing that there is significant potential for professional growth, and knowing that I am contributing to an excellent cause with my job, is not a major issue for me.
Glassdoor. (2020). US Department of Veteran Affairs readjustment counseling therapist salaries. Web.
as little as 3 hours
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Vet centers (readjustment counseling). Web.