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Why the VA?

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BlackSkirtTetra

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I have noticed in the last year that a lot of my classmates want to get internships or jobs at the VA. Have you guys noticed this? Is it solely because their pay and benefits are better (which is what I've heard) or are there other reasons?

I've asked a couple classmates and coworkers, but it seems like the VA has an allure of sorts that captures people. I've never had an interest in working with that population, so sometimes I feel out-of-the-loop...
 

paramour

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I'm not sure if it's the same for master's level folks, but you may want to search the PhD forums. I *think* that there were some similar threads re: the VA there a while back.
 

AcronymAllergy

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    For doctoral-level practitioners, the most commonly-cited reasons I hear mentioned are: good pay, good hours, good benefits/retirement, and solid job security. Additionally, there's a good bit to be said for the "all in one" nature of many VAs (e.g., the hospitals typically house divisions for mental health, benefits, and most major medical specialties), as well as not having to mess much with billing for services. The downsides often mentioned (again, in my experience) are the "red tape," record-keeping activities (although these are present pretty much everywhere), and--depending on which VA you work at--the supportiveness vs. lack of support received from, and overall work ethic of, supervisors and co-workers. Additionally, lack of research opportunities can also come into play.

    I'd imagine many of these points generally hold true for master's-level providers as well, although I'm not positive.
     

    Qwerk

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    The VA is also going on a hiring blitz right now, hence the excitement: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2325

    My school even posted about it on their Facebook page. I'm going to apply when I graduate because the pay and benefits are above what I've seen for nonprofit agencies and even some hospitals.
     

    BlackSkirtTetra

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    The VA is also going on a hiring blitz right now, hence the excitement: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2325

    My school even posted about it on their Facebook page. I'm going to apply when I graduate because the pay and benefits are above what I've seen for nonprofit agencies and even some hospitals.

    Do you have previous work experience or current internship experience with the VA? I've heard from my classmates that it's much more difficult to get hired there without previous experience.
     

    AcronymAllergy

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    Do you have previous work experience or current internship experience with the VA? I've heard from my classmates that it's much more difficult to get hired there without previous experience.

    This has generally been true in my experience as well, unless the individual is established in their career and comes with a solid resume. However, my interactions have all been limited to doctoral staff; not sure if it'll apply to the slew of new masters-level positions they're offering.
     

    wigflip

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    Note (from Qwerk's link above):

    "VHA anticipates the majority of hires will be selected within approximately six months and the most “hard-to-fill” positions filled by the end of the second quarter of FY 2013."
     

    Slugathor

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    I can confirm that there is a hiring blitz at the VA here in Hawaii and that they really want people who have VA experience or military. If you do not have VA experience or are not former military, kiss your chances goodbye. You can try and remedy this by volunteering for the red cross on military bases, as they have programs similar to the ones at the VA. The Red Cross centers at other bases may be more open to civilians, but I can tell you the ones here have a shocking attitude for us civilians...........
     

    wigflip

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    I can confirm that there is a hiring blitz at the VA here in Hawaii and that they really want people who have VA experience or military. If you do not have VA experience or are not former military, kiss your chances goodbye. You can try and remedy this by volunteering for the red cross on military bases, as they have programs similar to the ones at the VA. The Red Cross centers at other bases may be more open to civilians, but I can tell you the ones here have a shocking attitude for us civilians...........

    Wow. I, for one, am dying to hear more...
     

    BlackSkirtTetra

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    I used to live on a military base and had some interaction with the Red Cross, and that doesn't surprise me!
     

    Barefootone

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    I am also curious about this career track. I am currently a federal employee in an unrelated field. I have considered going back to school to get an MA in counseling....I was wondering about whether my current status as a federal employee, although in a different field, would make it easier for me to get an internship/field practice at a VA hospital, thus setting me up for a better shot at future employment with the VA?? The goal would be to bridge my current federal service to future federal service to boost the value of my pension, etc....? Thoughts? helpful advice? Thanks.
    Appears the VA is hiring LPCs now, not just social workers.
     

    Goobernut

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    Yes the VA is hiring LPC's now -- which is great for that licensure! There are fewer offerings at first, but I'm sure more and more postings will start to include LPC's. It's new to the VA and like any government run entity, it's slow to change.

    You know, I think that as long as you keep your status as a fed employee while completing your masters, that in the very least that will open up the "for current employee" only appointments. Which I checked, and there are quite a few more of those than just open to the public postings.

    On the iPhone, forgive errors :)
     

    MBellows

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    I have noticed in the last year that a lot of my classmates want to get internships or jobs at the VA. Have you guys noticed this? Is it solely because their pay and benefits are better (which is what I've heard) or are there other reasons?

    I've asked a couple classmates and coworkers, but it seems like the VA has an allure of sorts that captures people. I've never had an interest in working with that population, so sometimes I feel out-of-the-loop...

    Some want in for the benefits that Acronym pointed out, others want to work with that particular population because they feel they want to give something back to them. What many people who don't live on a military base or near a military hospital don't see is the number of soldiers who come back with TBI's, missing limbs, or lost a loved one when they were overseas defending them. For every one report of someone dying over there, there are hundreds of these people and they will need assistance reintegrating.

    A problem that the VA doesn't often put out there is that, as someone previously stated, they strongly prefer people with military experience. This is for several reasons, chief among them is the fact that civilians and military speak different languages, and a veteran is going to feel more comfortable talking to someone who knows what it's like and who speaks their language.
     

    FMSW

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    I used to live on a military base and had some interaction with the Red Cross, and that doesn't surprise me!


    Is the Red Cross on military bases really that bad? I'm in the midst of the hiring process with the Red Cross' "Services to the Armed Forces" (the Red Cross on bases) and now I'm a little worried about what kind of environment that would be.

    I thought working in the SAF division would improve my chances of getting into grad school for my MSW as well as hopefully open doors with the VA in the future. Is that unrealistic? Do members of the military have a negative attitude toward the ARC on base?
     

    Goobernut

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    Is the Red Cross on military bases really that bad? I'm in the midst of the hiring process with the Red Cross' "Services to the Armed Forces" (the Red Cross on bases) and now I'm a little worried about what kind of environment that would be.

    I thought working in the SAF division would improve my chances of getting into grad school for my MSW as well as hopefully open doors with the VA in the future. Is that unrealistic? Do members of the military have a negative attitude toward the ARC on base?

    No, I don't believe this is true. I think what the original posters were trying to say is that typically the Red Cross doesn't work with people that don't have prior military experience. Since you are currently being hired, I'm sure you are fine :)
     
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