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The Association of VA Social Workers was originally created in 1979 as a professional association for VA social work chiefs under the name “Association of VA Social Work Chiefs" (AVASWC).    The association was first conceptualized and spearheaded by a small group of Social Work Chiefs in “District 25” (California). Through their efforts the association eventually received nationwide support among social work chiefs throughout the VA system.

During the early 1990’s while the VA began to undergo radical reorganization (in response to Dr. Kenneth Kizer’s  “Prescription for Change”),  many facilities were eliminating or restructuring chief’s positions.  The title “Chief” no longer applied to several members of the Association, although they remained in managerial positions.  At a VA Social Work Chiefs conference held at San Antonio, Texas in September 1993, the Association held a meeting and voted to change the name of the Association from the Association of VA Social Work Chiefs to the Association of VA Social Work Managers (AVASWM).

Ongoing changes and re-positioning of Social Work Managers into a variety of roles, titles, and responsibilities led to an open meeting of the AVASWM at a VA Social Work Managers Conference in Las Vegas on September 13, 2000.  At that time, the members present voted to change the constitution/by-laws of the AVASWM and open membership to any VA social worker, a significant change in the membership and purpose of the Association.  The association was renamed the Association of VA Social Workers (AVASW).

Today, the AVASW continues to live out its purpose as stated in the 2010 revised edition of the Association Constitution and By-Laws:
“ The purpose of the Association is to encourage development of comprehensive Social Work services to veteran beneficiaries through education and training, leadership, promotion, and the sharing of information to enhance the effectiveness of Social Work. The Association will advocate for the recruitment, retention, and increased recognition of VA Social Workers. To accomplish the purpose, the Association will collaborate with established social work organizations and other such organizations as relevant to social work practice and social work services in health care settings.  Collaboration between members is also essential to achieve the purposes of AVASW.”

Paul BurtonThe History of AVASW by Paul Burton




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