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Learn about VA social worker careers from members of our team

VA social workers provide direct clinical services and coordinate specialized programs for Veterans, all while working with an interdisciplinary team to deliver care in the best interests of the patient.

As the largest employer of social workers in the nation, with more than 18,000 social workers among our ranks, VA can offer you a career anywhere, both geographically and professionally.

“We are looking for people who are really motivated to learn and motivated to come in and meet our mission, people who can be flexible, learn new programs,” said Jennifer Silva, licensed clinical social worker and National Social Work program manager at VA.

A path to a successful career

Social workers are clinical professionals with graduate degrees and professional licensure, which is overseen by a state licensing board. However, a key benefit of a social worker career at VA is the unique ability to practice at any VA facility in the country with just one license.

“Sometimes you have to move to a different geographic area due to personal or life experiences,” acknowledged Jennifer Koget, the national director of social work at VA. “VA offers that opportunity because we have medical centers in every state across the country.”

Beyond graduate education, many social workers have additional training related to their specific roles and interests. To help you find that niche where you’ll shine, VA offers many education support opportunities—loans, fellowships, and scholarships like the Education Incentive Scholarship Program (EISP)— that provide pathways to continue your education and develop your career.

Once you have obtained your license, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the work you can do at VA.

“Even if you want to do something that’s not clinical, social workers know that our degree is very portable,” Koget said. “You can use it in so many ways, even if it’s not in a clinical setting.”

Consider a rural opportunity

Meeting Veterans where they are is especially important to the millions of Veterans who choose to make their homes in rural communities.

More than 4 million Veterans return from active military careers to reside in communities that are not located near major medical facilities. That’s why VA is committed to providing care closer to home and building a strong rural workforce, which may provide an excellent opportunity for you.

For someone at the start of their career, our rural facilities offer an opportunity to learn and grow. Whether it’s through formalized development plans or informal peer support, you’ll find the chance to learn the ropes and advance your career when the time is right.

For those who might be farther along in their careers, VA’s rural locations offer a regular routine and smaller patient ratios that can be appealing. That can also be liberating for an experienced professional, because, the work we do is about doing what’s best for Veterans, without concern for cost.

Regardless of where you are in your professional career, taking advantage of the opportunities available in these rural facilities can offer personal benefits, as well. From big sky country to beach life, there’s likely a rural VA facility that suits your routine. 

A job that changes lives

Just as you may find social workers in many communities, the same is true within VA. Professional social workers are embedded within most VA departments, including primary care, the emergency department, mental health offices, rehabilitation units, community living centers, Vet Centers, and more.

Whether arranging service member benefit payments, connecting homeless Veterans with housing resources, or counseling Veterans with injuries or trauma, VA social workers engage in a wide range of clinical programming and impact millions of Veterans’ lives.

Beyond the clinical aspects of the work, VA social workers have become medical center directors, worked in our financial departments, and even taken on administrative oversite roles within the organization.

“We are such a large system of care that, really, regardless of what type of social work you’ve been trained in, or you’re interested in, you can find a place in VA that will pique those interests for you,” said Koget.

“You can move around,” said Silva. “You can be employed in the homeless program. You can be employed in a program that serves Veterans in the geriatric population. You can work in mental health. You can work in the community. You can serve in primary care. You can work in administration. Having that flexibility really is a critical component.”

Work at VA

With a mission of service and the opportunity to take your career in a new direction, being a social worker at VA is an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up.

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