Veteran Connection: Grant provides VA with additional social work staff to better serve rural veterans

At the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, social workers are available to assist veterans in many areas and can be found throughout our health care system, including Muskogee, Tulsa, McAlester, Idabel and Vinita.

You will find Social Work staff helping veterans in areas such as Primary Care, during hospitalization, Emergency Department, in mental health and rehabilitation units, contract nursing home management, housing services, outreach to homeless veterans and advance care planning, to name a few.

Thanks to grant funding from the Office of Rural Health, we have hired additional social workers to work alongside Primary Care teams to serve veterans who live in rural areas of the state.

Expansion of Social Work services throughout our health care system helps us fulfill VA’s mission of providing proactive and patient-centered care.

The partnership between health care and social work is important in offering our veterans the best care possible. While providers and nursing staff address health concerns, social workers can help with areas of the veteran’s life that may impact their ability to access or manage their health care needs.

Here are just some of the ways that VA social workers can help:

• Financial or housing assistance.

• Advice on getting help from the VA or from community agencies, such as Meals on Wheels, so you can continue to live in your own home.

• Applying for benefits from the VA, Social Security and other government and community programs.

• VA social workers develop and implement treatment approaches which address individual social problems and work with acute or chronic medical conditions, dying patients, and bereaved families.

• VA social workers…a voice for at-risk veterans and their families.

• They can make sure your doctor and other VA staff on your team know your decisions about end-of-life issues, generally called advance directives and living wills. This includes things like whether you want to be on life support equipment, whether you are an organ donor, and which family member or other person you have chosen to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so.

• They can help you arrange respite care for your caregiver so she or he can have a break or go on vacation without worrying about who will care for you.

• Marriage or family problems.

• Help with moving to an assisted living facility, a board and care home or a nursing home.

• Someone close to you has passed away and you want to talk about it.

• Problems with drinking or drug use.

• You feel that someone is taking advantage of you or you feel mistreated in a relationship.

• A parent who feels overwhelmed with child care.

• If your parent or spouse is in failing health.

• Feeling stressed because of your health or because your medical condition interferes with your daily activities.

• Feeling sad, depressed or anxious.

• If you really aren’t sure what you need, but things just don’t feel right.

Every Primary Care team within EOVAHCS has a Social Worker assigned to work with them and can be contacted in person (per current COVID-19 guidance for clinic visits), on the phone and through VA Video Connect visits.

For more information on Social Work services within Primary Care, call 1-888-397-8387 and ask for your Primary Care team or Social Work Service. 

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