The Department of Veterans Affairs announced this year that it will be adding 1,600 new clinicians, including social workers, to its mental health staff. This announcement came on the heels of increasing pressure for the Department of Veterans Affairs to reduce the long wait times many Veterans face when seeking care for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other behavioral health conditions at VA facilities. With an influx of Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and the high rates of suicide among Veterans, the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) more than 9 percent increase in its mental health staff is a much needed addition.
In order to meet the goal of hiring 1,600 new clinicians and 300 new mental health support staff, the VHA implemented a national recruitment program, which seeks to expedite the hiring process while still ensuring efficiency and quality. An in-house team of 21 national health care recruiters, who are all Veterans, has been assigned the task of filling the agency’s vacant clinical and executive positions. There is also a focus on targeting recruitment to rural areas where Veterans often do not have the same level of access to VA facilities and behavioral health providers as Veterans in urban areas.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest employer of Master’s level social workers in the United States. Social workers offer a variety of essential services to Veterans and their families including financial or housing assistance, community outreach, resource navigation, advocacy, psychotherapy, and behavioral health assessments, screenings, and interventions. As the Department of Veterans Affairs opens its doors to hiring more mental health care providers, social workers are poised to answer the call and utilize the profession’s specialized skills to give back to the men and women who served this nation. Social workers interested in a career at the Department of Veterans Affairs can apply online at www.vacareers.va.gov, and for more information about VA social work please visit http://www.socialwork.va.gov/.