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Many VA social workers have asked themselves or the Executive Committee of AVASW this question.  We thought we’d try to answer it in a direct way.

Being a member of AVASW allows you to be part of something bigger.  Those of us who work in service-line environments sometimes feel disconnected from our profession.  VA social workers employed by large medical centers or in rural CBOC’s may also feel this way.  Being a member of AVASW allows you to keep up with what’s happening within the entire VA system.

Being a member of AVASW can open opportunities to have a voice in the “bigger picture”.  It offers its members access to the inner workings of social work at the national level.  This includes direct access to our leadership in VACO.

  • AVASW has a Congressional Liaison who monitors legislation to keep our members apprised of congressional activity that may affect our profession.  The Liaison represents AVASW and VA social work directly in contact with members of Congress.  AVASW has testified at the Senate confirmation hearings for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, advocating for pay equity and benefits, and most recently, endorsing a position paper on pending legislation with AVAPL (Association of VA Psychologist Leaders), NASW, and APA.
  • AVASW collaborates with social work leadership in VA Central Office.  The President serves as AVASW representative on the VA Social Work Leadership Council to inform VACO & social work leadership about Association projects, matters of concern to members, and to obtain information to share with our members. AVASW provides ideas, information, takes positions on issues, shares and advocates for members interests and concerns, and recommends remedies and action.  These ideas come from our members.
  • AVASW collaborates with other national and state social work organizations, such as NASW, SSWLHC, CSWE, etc.  AVASW officers worked with CWSE to write social work graduate school curricula standards about veterans and their families.  AVASW officers also participated with NASW in developing the Military Families & Veterans practice credential and we continue to work with NASW at the national and state level to provide VA specific training and outreach events.  Often AVASW membership is recognized to allow discounts in other association conferences.

As an active member of AVASW, your work might be recognized by your peers through our Awards & Recognition Program which includes a Quarterly Award, Annual Award and Hall of Fame.  Your hard work is not always recognized at the local level, so this allows our members to share their accomplishment, expertise and passions with a national audience of peers.  The awards include monetary assistance with CEU’s.   As a bonus, AVASW provides financial support for travel expense to members receiving recognition and awards from other relevant professional organizations.

What other organization offers its members the opportunity to take part in making an annual financial contribution to charitable organizations that serve veterans?  AVASW members nominate potential charitable organizations and vote to select the organization that receives a cash donation from AVASW on behalf of the membership.  It’s a great way to thank those organizations that help you in your daily work and serve our Veterans.

AVASW offers its members the opportunity to get involved in an organization that serves them.  While there are a set number of officers that are elected to voluntarily run the organization, there are many committees and national VA committees that members can join.  You might be asking yourself, why you would want to take on more responsibility.  One answer would be to impact the job you do and make sure it has the support you need at a national level.  That support could be as small as being able to network with other social workers doing similar things in other places (a change of perspective is always good).  It could also be as big as influencing policy and having a voice in things that matter to you.  Some opportunities that are available to you are:

  • Serving on the Executive Committee
  • Contributing to the Newsletter
  • Helping our Web Master maintain and improve our website, Facebook and Instagram pages
  • Serving on the AVASW Continuing Education & Conference Planning Committee
  • Helping create new committees to meet unmet needs of our members

Why you may want to be an AVASW member?

  • To stay informed
  • To stay connected
  • To lend your voice to our profession and issues affecting you
  • To help provide support to your fellow VA Social Workers
  • To develop your own VA SW Career through networking and information access
  • Finally, because it is our duty as Social Workers to help maintain and support the social work profession. Joining and maintaining your AVASW membership is a very inexpensive way to ensure that we have a voice and fulfills our responsibility to our colleagues and to our profession (NASW Code of Ethics). 



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