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Professional Proof - New Florida Law Benefits Vets, and Others

July 28, 2008

Miami, FL – A new law on the books in Florida is all about being professional. The measure says only people with college degrees in social work can call themselves "social workers."

Licensed Clinical Social Worker Janice Postlewaite is a member of the National Association of Social Workers' Florida chapter. As thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans return to their families and jobs, she says, some will be seeking such professional services - so it's especially important to make sure people doing the job have the education and additional training required.

"Social workers are on the front lines: they're the first line of defense to help them, not only to address any issues that they have, but to help them cope with sources of stress."

Postlewaite has received additional training to help veterans. She says she looks at the big picture for each veteran – from employment, to medical issues, to family harmony – and then helps them find ways to meet their goals. Many people don't understand the social work profession, she explains, describing it as a specialty field that looks at a "whole person," not just an immediate problem.

"We look at their physical and medical problems, as well as any kind of mental health problems within their environment."

Those who opposed the new law say it could hurt the businesses and careers of Floridians who, while they may be trained to refer people to appropriate care, lack the official title "social worker."

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - FL