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MI Social Workers Bridging the Gap Between Veterans and Civilians

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The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.
The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.
February 10, 2014

LANSING, Mich. - While it's good to come home to family and friends after military deployment, getting back into the swing of daily life can be difficult for armed services members, and social workers in Michigan are helping to ease the transition for many veterans.

According to 1st Lt. Stephanie Boltrick with the National Association of Social Workers in Michigan, while many returning veterans do face mental health issues, others just need some guidance and encouragement to help them adjust.

They are "just trying to get back into the mode of a civilian day-to-day life, being a mom, being a dad," she said. "Veterans are people, so making that transition from warrior back to 'you' can be a definite challenge."

Across the state, social workers are helping returning veterans by connecting them to educational, employment and mental-health support. Also, there is a confidential toll-free crisis line available for veterans and their loved ones, available at 1-800-273-8255, or online at VeteransCrisisLine.net.

Boltrick said social workers in Michigan are doing their part to help military families, but they can play an even bigger role in bridging the gap between civilians and veterans.

"It's up to us as social workers to have our minds open to understanding what this population needs: focusing on community integration and providing advocacy for this group that so desperately needs it."

Boltrick said that across the state, educational, faith and health organizations have initiatives to assist veterans, but better collaboration is needed.

"We don't need to reinvent the wheel with a lot of the stuff that we're doing, and really what you'll find is a lot of agencies are providing very similar services to veterans," she said. "If they would come together, they could enhance those efforts."

In 2011, the Joining Forces Michigan initiative was launched in an effort to educate and train all social workers so they can better meet the needs of service members.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI