Letters to the Editor (July 2013)

Social workers obligated to know those they help.

I respectfully take issue with the letter by Douglas Braun, published in the May 2013 issue of NASW News, titled “Not all social workers bound to help military.”

All social workers that service clients have an obligation to know those clients. Since most of us do not know who will walk through the doors of our agencies, practices, or organizations, I believe the responsible approach is to know as much as we can about clients, their cultures and sub-cultures.

As American citizens, we ARE the government, making it OUR responsibility to “support these men and women by providing them with appropriate… medical follow up, and mental health services for injuries they may sustain.”

You may not have asked these individuals to serve, but as Americans, we are responsible to care for those brave souls who chose to serve and came home broken.

I am personally offended by your position, suggesting you have no responsibility to these uniformed men and women, but are most certainly willing to accept the perks and freedoms they have defended and protected.

I chose the social work profession not to obtain fame and prosperity, but to leave society better than I found it. The problem I see in our current society is that “We the People,” do not take responsibility for our fellow citizens, and as social workers, we have the added responsibility, albeit burden, to be prepared to address whatever issues come our way.

I happen to work with injured, wounded and ill service members. With suicide, divorce, PTSD, anxiety, TBI, depression and addictions on the rise, the VA has long waiting lists and delays in care. If we were all obligated to “seek education about and respond to the needs of our nation’s military, veterans and their families,” we would be able to cut down on the time it takes to address and treat issues that these service members “did not sign up for.”

You don’t have to learn about these issues. You have the right to put your head in the sand. But that does not speak well to the compassionate and philosophical underpinnings of the social work profession.

David A. Manning, LCSW, LCADC
Rock Island, Ill.