VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Celebrating 90 Years of Social Workers
Human rights and social justice serve as the motivation and justification for social work action. These ideals go hand in hand with the work done by more than 200 social workers at VA Palo Alto Health Care System and more than 12,000 social workers at VAMCs across the country who have been providing support to active duty military personnel, Veterans and their families for 90 years.
From working with traumatic brain injury patients to helping Veterans cope with PTSD and LGBT issues, there are social workers integrated in all inpatient and outpatient care.
Scott Skiles, social work supervisor at the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center at VAPAHCS, has overseen many quick and sometimes miraculous recoveries. He collaborates with a multidisciplinary team that creates a strong network of support for Veterans and service members receiving care in the PRC.
“After almost 30 years in emergency, trauma, and rehab, I’ve come to the belief that life is characterized by loss and grace,” said Skiles when asked to explain why he got into social work.
“There is something foundationally right about trying to stand with someone in a moment of great struggle and sorrow.”
At the Menlo Park Division, several residential rehabilitation services benefit from social work services, including the Trauma Rehabilitation Programs.
Gabriel Lonero found the well-rounded career he was looking for when he joined VAPAHCS in 2007. After working with HIV and substance abuse programs, he longed to do more. He now is involved in case management, group sessions for the trauma program and received VA certification for cognitive behavioral therapy.
Lonero was asked to co-facilitate the LGBT Veterans group at VAPAHCS four years ago, which has flourished into a best practice within VA and gained him the ICARE Certificate of Excellence for LGBT Veteran Services in 2015.
“Social work was a calling for me and with the VA, there’s so many hats you can wear,” said Lonero.
He now also helps with the LGBT Staff and Allies group, creating a safe place for LGBT employees and those who support them.
Many social workers in the system are contributing to the VA mission every day. Join in celebrating social workers and learn more about how they contribute to your service on the VAPAHCS website.