Dr. Joan Beder, professor at Wurzweiler School of Social Work, has guest-edited a special issue of Social Work in Health Care, (50:1, 1–3) titled “Preface to Special Issue: Social Work With the Military: Current Practice Challenges and Approaches to Care”.

Major advances in protective armor and advances in military medicine have resulted in unprecedented numbers of American military service members surviving injuries sustained in direct combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unique to the history of war for Americans, 90% of military members wounded who participate in Iraq and Afghanistan will survive their injury and this has created a situation in which traditional systems of care have become overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of those returning from battle. Social workers, who are employed by the government, carry significant caseloads and often cannot keep pace with the demand. As such, service members, veterans and their families are utilizing civilian social workers for psychosocial and mental health service needs.

This Special Issue—the first of two—was initiated to help acquaint and educate the civilian social worker to the world of the service member/veteran. Civilian social workers do not have the experience of those who work in the VA (Veterans Affairs) or DoD (Department of Defense) systems and need an orientation to care that is grounded in knowledge that may be gained from the expertise of others. This edition attempts to bring together a number of experienced clinicians and service providers to help educate the profession. Veterans and returning service members have a multiplicity of concerns and needs related to their war experience and require the best and most informed practice approaches.
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