Civilian Social Work: Serving the Military and Veteran Populations


This article describes some of the current challenges facing military and veteran clients and their families, highlighting opportunities for civilian social workers to address these challenges. Military service members and their families are no different from the general population in seeking social services to deal with life’s issues, though the military lifestyle may amplify the complexity of their situations. As a profession, social work must adopt a proactive approach regarding its engagement with this population through military and civilian partnerships, dissemination of useful resources and clinical tools, and appropriate education and training.


This article discusses social work practice areas for civilian social workers who provide services to military service members, veterans, and their families. These practice areas include education, child welfare, domestic violence, mental health, health care, substance abuse and criminal justice. The authors examine the impact of the contemporary military lifestyle and current military operations on service members and their families, in the context of these practice areas, with the goal of compelling civilian social workers to acknowledge their responsibility to competently serve military and veteran clients.

Full Reference

Laura Savitsky, Maria Illingworth, MSW, Megan DuLaney; Civilian Social Work: Serving the Military and Veteran Populations, Social Work, Volume 54, Issue 4, 1 October 2009, Pages 327-339.