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AVASW Social Worker of the Quarter 2016

AVASW Social Worker of the 1st Quarter
Eileen Burke, LCSW

Eileen Burke is the AVASW Social Worker for the first quarter of 2016.  Eileen is a HUD-VASH Case Manager at the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System in Biloxi, MS. Eileen was nominated by Jodie Picciano-Swanson, LCSW, ACSW, the Assistant Homeless Program Manager DV/IPV Coordinator at Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System.  Ms. Picciano-Swanson says: ‘There is not a day that goes by without Eileen demonstrating the VA core values and characteristics.” 

Trustworthy-she always follows through with a promise made to her supervisor, peers, or Veterans.

Accessible-she never turns a homeless Veteran away; she will always make time for those in need.

Quality-her documentation is clear and concise and she communicates with other Social Workers, Providers, and outside resources as needed to serve Our Veterans.

Agile-she can juggle multiple tasks without complaint.

Innovative-she will find resources, or develop referral ideas for Veterans who may not meet the HUD/VASH criteria, but are certainly in need of services.

Integrated-she is skilled at creating a non-judgmental, safe environment, which enables Veteran to have a sense of trust during their assessments.  She is inclusive of all team members in the Homeless Program and is a real team player and leader.

The nomination goes on to give examples of how Eileen carries out the ICARE commitment to Veterans in her work.  She has integrity, she is honest and reliable.  She is committed to serving the Veteran and addressing needs as they present themselves through her advanced clinical skills and her dedication to the Veterans she serves to get them the services they need.  She is an advocate for Veterans to the VA and to community programs, she does Outreach services and serves Veterans as well as non-Veterans in the local soup kitchens as well as being a active participant in a local coalition of community services for the homeless.  She respects the Veterans that they serve as wells as her peers and she is well respected by others as well. She exemplifies the role of a VA Social Worker, she provides excellent care every day.

When asked what brought her to the VA ( because from her resume it looked like she has been doing private practice for a number of years after she graduated from her MSW program),  she stated that she came to the VA sort of by accident.  She indicated that when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, her New Orleans private practice was necessarily shuttered for 9 months. She started thinking about looking for employment that offered contingency plans to deal with these types of events.  She applied to the VA and got hired and found that it has been a positive rewarding experience professionally for her.  She informed me that her father had joined the Navy in WW11, the Marines in the Korean War, and the National Guard in peacetime.  She also indicated that she found that she really enjoys working with Veterans.

When I asked her what she was passionate about, she stated that “everyone wants to be seen and valued, and the ones that we may pass over or are invisible to us, they deserve to been seen and listened to. “  Her advice to new social workers at the VA: STOP and LISTEN, be quiet and listen to what you are being told, talk less, listen more.  Her challenge to us as social worker is to not let the ones that smell bad, or are drug addicts, or have mental health problems be invisible or passed by, they are the ones that need our help, we are not always going to able to work with the articulate middle class Veterans, these other Veterans are the ones we need to use our skills to help. 

The AVASW is thrilled to award Eileen Burke, MSW, LCSW as our 1st Quarter SW of the year 2016.  Thank you for your wonderful work with our Veterans who may sometimes be overlooked but always need to be honored and assisted for the service they gave to our country.


AVASW Social Worker of the 2nd Quarter
Myrna Molinari, LCSW


We are thrilled to announce the Second Quarter AVASW Social Worker Achievement Award goes to Myrna Molinari, LCSW from West Palm Beach VAMC.  Ms. Molinari is a seasoned social worker prior to joining the VA in West Palm Beach.  Before her career at the VA Ms. Molinari was a Clinical Program Manager and then the Director of Services for The Salvation Army of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties in Fort Meyers, FL.  She came to the VA Medical Center in West Palm Beach in 2012.  She is currently the Hospital Advocate for all Former Prisoners of War and Social Worker Supervisor at the WPB VAMC.  She specializes in treating Veterans with PTSD, Military Sexual Trauma, Substance Dependence and co-occurring disorders.  She is also the Co-Founder of the Warrior Mission: At Ease free therapeutic retreat program for Active Duty and Veterans with combat PTSD and MST. 

She is known for going above and beyond the job to make sure that Veterans get the care and support they need to recover from the stress and distress of war and combat.  She is known by her colleagues as someone who is creative in looking at program development and improvement within the VA system and has created new documentation, “SOP’s, and MCM’s to be ready for the Joint Commission by developing and improving a new NVCC for patients being sent for substance abuse to better meet the needs of the service as well as developing a more efficient patient flow chart.”  “She has collaborated internally and externally to make National POW/MIA Recognition day a success.  She does ongoing research and training in the area of PTSD/TBI/Chronic Pain and has developed both a staff training and a Veteran centered training for this.”

When asked how she was drawn to the VA and the specialized work that she does, she states that her Dad is a Veteran, and she has family members on active duty.  Once she was hired by the VA in WPB she went back and forth for 18 months seeing her family on weekends until her family could relocate from Fort Meyers to West Palm Beach.    She is trained in Accelerated Resolution Therapy which she indicated is the fastest and most effective form of trauma therapy.  She says “what drives me, is to see the men and women who served and fought for our freedom to be free of their emotional and traumatic memory burdens so they can live healthy and connected lives. I make a point of taking Veterans who have the most severe symptoms and are most at risk so that they have hope and hold on until they sort through the traumatic memories, heal from them and are no longer at risk.”  The Accelerated Resolution Therapy is an evidence based practice therapy model that military bases are beginning to use it.  It is Ms. Molinari’s hope that the VA nationally will embrace this form of therapy and train more people to do it to support Veteran centered care.

When asked what advice that Ms. Molinari would give to new workers: “My advice to new social workers is to get the best training so they can be the most effective.  It will transform their practice, the way they care for Veterans and the way they feel at the end of sessions, elated instead of depleted.  I would advise them to make sure that on work time they are focused totally on their mission and when they walk out of the door at the end of the day to focus on their own life to stay in healthy balance.”  We thank you Myrna Molinari for being the great dedicated social worker you are and for being the 2nd Quarter AVASW Social Worker.



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