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Voice of the People

Dec. 19, 2012 @ 12:01 AM

Veterans Act is missing the mark

The "Veterans Benefits, Healthcare, and Information Technology Act of 2006" (now Public Law 109-461) in essence was derived to ensure that veterans not only had access to medical health providers, but also mental health providers. To date the action upon which that legislation called for has failed to come to fruition.

Although the Veterans Administration is given a tremendous task in working with all who served our country and the multitude of issues they face, it is doing a great disservice to those same people by not offering what the legislation intended. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics defines the vast differences between social workers and counselors; it is my belief that our veterans should have open access to both. Both disciplines require at least a bachelor's degree or above, both allow for specializations within their field and both require outstanding communication, organization and networking skills. Past that the lines are clearly drawn. A social worker's main task is to assess the needs of an individual; these may be financial, medical, legal, residential or career domains. They may diagnose mental, behavioral or emotional issues and provide the client with resources that may help.

The counselor role is to assess mental and emotional disorders and work with the veteran and families to overcome these issues. Issues that a counselor would help with would be substance abuse, physical abuse, PTSD, communication and emotional detachment and a host of other interpersonal concerns.

While veterans may be benefiting from the social workers through the VA, there is a distinct difference in the education and training between these two fields and our veterans deserve the utmost care they can be given. Congress knew that nearly seven years ago and we need to all use our voice to make today's Congress act upon the law.

Sherry Williamson

Letart, W.Va.

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