Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence
Social Worker Support for Veterans and Families
Living with MS can be very challenging. It requires accepting those things you can’t change and adjusting to the ‘new normal’ for you and your loved ones. This change in perspective helps shift your focus from the past to the present. VA social workers are educated and trained to help you understand and accept the challenges of living with MS and assist you in finding ways to live your best life.
Role of the MS Social Worker
As a CASE MANAGER on the MS Team:
- Assess the needs of the Veteran and family caregiver. Formulate a plan.
- Identify VA and community resources, and follow-up for outcome.
- Link necessary VA departments and services together to best serve the Veteran and carepartner.
- Partner with other professionals in Mental Health, Primary Care and other service lines to provide comprehensive management of resources, support systems and services to Veterans/Family members.
As an ADVOCATE on the MS Team:
- Intercede and speak in defense of the Veteran’s well-being.
- Advocate for what the Veteran desires in their care. (Patient Centered Model).
- Assist Veteran in navigation of the VA health care system and private sector.
As a COUNSELOR on the MS Team:
- Provide supportive counseling to assist Veteran/Family members in coping with the impact of MS, change in roles/identity and disease progression.
- Provide coping strategies for managing emotions: sadness, anger, worry and fear.
As a FACILITATOR on the MS Team:
- Seek opportunities to gather Veterans together for peer support: MS support groups, telephone support groups, caregiver support groups.
- Develop relationships with community organizations that support Veterans with MS.
As an EDUCATOR on the MS Team:
- Inform not only the Veteran/Family members but also fellow team members on resources, support programs and systems in place for Veterans with MS and their carepartners.
- Provide education to Veterans, families and interdisciplinary team members on the psychosocial impact of illness and disease progression.
- Advise Veterans regarding VA benefits and compensation programs.
- Provide education on planning for care with the use of Advanced Directives.
As a NEGOTIATOR on the MS Team:
- Provide mediation between the Veteran and the health care system.
- Assist in resolving Veteran and carepartner conflicts, providing supportive counseling as appropriate.
- Assist in resolving systemic conflicts that impact the care of the Veteran.
If you would like to speak with a social worker at your VA, talk to your MS specialist or primary care provider about getting an appointment. To learn more about social worker roles in the VA system of care, visit the What VA Social Workers Do webpage.