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AVASW Social Worker of the Quarter 2017

AVASW Social Worker of the 1st Quarter
Lauren Quick-Graham, LCSW

We are happy to announce Lauren Quick-Graham as the AVASW Social Worker of the First Quarter.  Ms. Quick-Graham is relatively new to the VA system.  She has been at the Durham VA for 2 years.  When I interviewed her and asked her about her commitment to Veterans, she talked about her Grandfather who was a WWII Veteran.  She talked about spending time with him and the stories he told her about the war. He had been involved in the liberation of a concentration camp and the many things that still troubled him even at the end of life.  We talked about the fact that PTSD was not recognized in those days and that we had no understanding of the years of suffering that those Veterans faced back then. 

The person submitting the nomination wrote: ”Lauren Quick-Graham remains a transformative, innovative social work leader with the VA system.  Lauren’s passion for her many interests in our field make her an asset to whichever team she is a part of.  Her list of credentials and duties with the Durham VA Medical Center are the tip of the iceberg of her in-depth critical thinking and challenging she does in practice settings.”

Lauren is a substance abuse specialist and mental health specialist prior to coming the VA.  She has used her skills and enthusiasm to increase staff development and to train others.  According to the nominator, she assisted her department in having a retreat in March of 2015 that offered 5 CEUs and her leadership allowed them to repeat the off site retreat again 2016.  She has also joined the National Case Management and Social Work Services committee on SW staff development and professional development.

Lauren is also facilitating the Strength at Home Program targeting Veterans who use violence in relationships.  She indicated that their VA is a pilot site for this program.  She believes that all Veterans have stories that they need to talk about and tell.  She is both Veteran focused and strength based in her treatment. She also states “I am also an advocate for recovery.”  Mental illness/substance use disorder stigmatizes Veterans struggling with the after math of their war experiences.  “I hope that with my work as a social worker, I can model appropriate and effective treatment and show people that recovery is possible.  I also hope to challenge society’s view of Veterans and those who have a substance use disorder(s).” 

Congratulations Lauren. We are honored to have you as a VA social work team member.


AVASW Social Worker of the 2nd Quarter
April Tully, LCSW

It is a pleasure to announce that April Tully frm the VA New Jersey Healthcare System, Social Work East Orange and Lyons campus is the AVASW SW of the 2nd Quarter.  She is the Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator at the New Jersey Healthcare System East Orange and Lyons campus.  Ms. Tully came to the VA system in 2010, and was initially hired as a Military Sexual Trauma Therapist.  She came to her social work career as a second career and one that she was drawn to by her desire to help others and improve her clients situations.  She has training in addiction treatment, PTSD treatment, and sexual assault treatment prior to coming to the VA.  She indicates that her passion for the work in the field of trauma therapy is supported by her extensive reading and lifelong study on the subject.  She feels inspired by the annual trauma conference held in Boston and hosted by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a leading expert in the field of trauma.  He is known for his work that “integrates developmental, biological, psychodynamic and interpersonal aspects of the impact of trauma and its treatment.” Psychological Trauma his book that was the first one to integrate the text on the subject of trauma of the whole person and the number of therapeutic issues which must be included to recover from trauma.  Ms. Tully indicated to this interviewer that he has inspired her and assisted her quest for knowledge in this area. 

Ms. Tully also shared that in the work that she does in New Jersey they have found that in order for some of the evidence based treatment to work, that they have used Marsha Linehan’s DBT treatment skills to support the Veterans they work with to help them find the tools to allow them to make the changes needed to support their recovery.  When talking to Ms. Tully it is clear why she inspires her colleagues and why she was nominated for the SW of the Quarter.  The person who nominated Ms. Tully also informed the committee that Ms. Tully goes out into the “community to various venues including vet centers to bring the plight of these (Military Sexual Trauma) vets to the attention of the average VA employee, and clinicians who might not have considered that this element might be a part of a Veteran’s experience.” “Each year during Sexual Assault Awareness month she has organized an event at our main campus to bring awareness to Military Sexual Trauma, and lets survivors know that they are not alone, and the Veteran’s Administration is there to help.” 

Her advice to new social workers is to view learning as a lifelong quest, and to seek out every training they can in the subjects that interest them.  Thank you Ms. Tully for your service to our Veterans and congratulations on being the AVASW social worker of the 2nd Quarter.



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