Professional counselors are skilled in working with various populations of clients. Among these populations of clients is a group in special need of assistance: our veterans. Veterans have specific needs. Many have returned from combat with significant stress-related illnesses and/or physical injuries. Some have developed PTSD – (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and/or other disorders as a result of the harsh and tumultuous experiences during war. Many veterans have to deal with the added tragedy and challenge of losing close friends and colleagues. Often, veterans can endure feelings of guilt as a result of their war experience. Veterans counselors are often the most important line of defense in protecting veterans from the horrific possibilities of severe depression and suicide.
Another area in which veterans counselors can help veterans is in the area of helping them to find civilian employment. Readjusting to “mainstream society” is a big challenge for our veterans. Veterans counselors are in the unique and highly qualified position of helping those who have helped us so much.
Some of the important areas in which veterans counselors can help our veterans:
Vocational and rehabilitation counseling
Treating mental illness such as conditions of PTSD
Veterans counselors are important advocates for veterans and their families. Imagine working with children of veterans. Veterans counselors often work with spouses who have had to deal with separation anxiety and other issues surrounding the spouse they love. Areas in which veterans counselors may work:
The Veterans Administration
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Counselors are encouraged to pursue at least a Master’s degree in order expand their employment options and gain the most professional clout possible. Often, the Mental Health Counseling emphasis and Rehabilitation Counseling emphasis are the best viable options for specializing in order to properly take one in the direction of the career. Talk to school administrators to ensure that you are on the right path.
Authorities in the profession have suggested that the mental health counseling program is the logical choice for individuals with an avid interest in working with veterans who are suffering from PTSD and/or other serious issues. For an individual to work as a mental health counselor for the Veterans Administration, he or she must attain graduation from a program that is CACREP – accredited (The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs). For the latest and greatest news on occupational guidelines, keep an eye on the information within the VA site.
Veterans counselors are able to pursue continuing education courses offered by organizations such as the National Center for PTSD.
Licensing and Certification for Veterans Counselors
Mental health counselors and rehabilitation counselors are usually licensed within all 50 states. In some of those states, both are eligible (with the right qualifications) for the Licensed Professional Counselor designation. The Certified Rehabilitation Counselor credential is another option that many consider highly desirable and sought out by employers. Remember, the more education you get, the better the potential for your long term career!
Salary and Career Potential for Veterans Counselors
The U.S. government provides funds for services to assist returning veterans requiring special services (which are often in the realm of counseling). Based on data offered from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary range of a veterans counselor is in the realm of $32,000 to $38,000 for those with the specialties of mental health counselors and rehabilitation counselors. As The United States continues to have a need to provide services for our returning veterans, there will be a growing need for Veterans Counselors. This is a highly rewarding sector of the counseling profession!