NASW-NC Social Work Blog

Your source for the social work profession in North Carolina.

Military Social Work: Serving Those Who Serve

Erin Timmermans, MPABy Erin Timmermans MPA
Associate Executive Director, NASW-NC

Our Military in North Carolina:

  • The fourth largest active-duty military population in the US
  • 10th highest ranked veteran populated state in the nation
  • Active Duty, Reserve, and Civilian/Military Support Personnel account for over 416,000 residents, seven military installations & 14 Coast Guard facilities
  • More than 763,000 veterans and former military members reside in our state 

As you walk through the grocery store, hurrying to get home to a hungry family, or as you sit in the park on a lazy afternoon, it is likely that you interact with a military impacted individual. Many are struggling ‘single spouses’ facing long absences of their loved ones, some are citizen soldiers who devote their life to two full-time causes; the military and a civilian job. Some experience happy, healthy and whole lives, while others are struggling with prominent issues facing the military population.

NASW-NC is committed to assisting YOU as we unite to support our military.

  • 18.5% of service members returning from Iraq from Afghanistan have PTSD or depression. 19.5% report experiencing a Traumatic Brain Injury during deployment
  • 349 service members in all branches of the US Military committed suicide in 2012, up 15 percent from 301 in 2011. This number exceeded the total combat fatalities in Afghanistan in 2012. More than half of the Army National Guard and Reserve members who killed themselves in 2010 had never deployed
  • In 2009, mental and substance abuse disorders caused more hospitalizations among troops that any other cause
  • 13% of the homeless population are veterans; nearly 63,000 individuals. The majority are single; live in urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders

Read more on Current Mental Health Issues. 

These staggering statistics have called our profession to action to implement programmatic change that directly impacts the behavioral health of our military population. Through these initiatives, significant assistance from the private sector will enhance our military communities and provide the support they deserve.

Why is this important to NASW-NC?

  • Social workers are a critical component to the success of our service members, veterans and their families
  • Serving in many capacities, social work is the ONLY profession capable of providing multifaceted support to our military

YOU, the social worker serve as clinicians, financial consultants and family care consultants. YOU impact our homeless veteran population with front line services. YOU work in substance abuse and aging programs designed specifically for our service members and veterans. YOU identify countless cases of PTSD, anxiety disorders and other traumas military and their family members face. YOU help returning troops successfully reintegrate with their families. YOU help families deal with the tragic loss of heroes killed in action. And many of YOU are proud service members and veterans yourselves!

How is NASW-NC Addressing Members’ Needs?

NASW-NC increased its presence as a key stakeholder in the Behavioral Health Community Blueprint, a dynamic team of 55 expert behavioral health providers and associations committed to addressing the needs of our returning military and families in installations in North Carolina.

  • As new services are created, we ensure that social workers are at the forefront of implementation.

Military social workers are in dire need of a reduction in work load, assistance with insurance reimbursement, and assistance in navigating the government services for clients.

  • NASW-NC advocates for job creation in specific military affected areas, and works with contracting companies who seek employment opportunities for the membership. We also follow insurance changes, advocate for the best reimbursement rates possible and educate our membership on applying to be a Tricare provider.

NASW-NC created the Military Practice Area Network (PAN); a virtual resource and networking center for members of the North Carolina Chapter.

  • As new services, information, and opportunities are made available to our networks, NASW-NC posts them to the Military PAN and listserv.

Creating Learning Opportunities for the Membership

Social Work Students and Programs: Social Work education curricula must include aspects of serving the military population in our state so that we carry this important work into the next generation of social work professionals.

  • NASW-NC supports and collaborates with the Give an Hour: Connected Initiative which focused on educating the next generation of social work professionals and faculty who teach them.
  • NASW-NC attends social work education meetings at colleges and universities across our state; providing updates on mental health that impact the social work profession

Social Work Professionals: Members have requested more access to continuing education opportunities in North Carolina. Here is how we are meeting this request:

  •  Increasing our face-to-face opportunities across the state to provide the training you need, where you are.
  • Working with NASW, Army OneSource, and other organizations to promote FREE webinar series specifically designed to address the needs of our social workers and those they serve.
  • Encouraging NASW membership to present at Local Program Units, Practice Meetings, and Conferences or create their own opportunity to share their expertise with others!
  • Investigating national partnerships to provide high quality military conference opportunities at a reasonable cost.

How Can We Help You?

Are you a member who is working with clients associated with the military experience? Can we better assist you in your work?

Sources: 

NASW Military Page

NASW-NC Practice Area Network

*SAMHSA’s “Leading Change: A Plan for SAMSHSA’s Roles and Actions”

**US Military suicides continue to climb, reaching record in 2012

***National Coalition for Homeless Veterans: FAQ

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This entry was posted on February 11, 2013 by in Advocacy, Blog Posts by Topic, Membership and tagged , , , , .

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