Social work services are an integral part of overall health care.  At VA facilities across the country, social workers are available to assist Veterans in a variety of settings to include the primary care clinic, during hospitalization, at emergency department visits, in mental health and rehabilitation units, and upon enrollment in specialty medical programs.

March is designated at National Professional Social Work Month and VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System, social workers Maribel Barcenas, Cynthia Gonzalez and Alondra Muñiz, were recognized for their work with Veterans.

VA social worker Maribel Barcenas is asked to hold up the plaque recently presented to her by Cameron County officials for her outstanding work with Veterans.

Maribel Barcenas holds the plaque recently presented to her by Cameron County, Texas, officials for her work with Veterans.  Cynthia Gonzalez and Alondra Muñiz were also recognized. The trio works at the Harlingen VA Outpatient Clinic.

“It’s very fitting that three of our social workers have this ceremony take place this month,”  said Joe A. Perez, the health care system’s director. “March is National Professional Social Work Month and special ceremonies like this one provide an opportunity for social workers across the country to turn the spotlight on the profession and highlight the important contributions they make to society. Having the local community take notice and recognize the great work of our employees is a testament of the caliber of professionals we have working here, especially if you take in to consideration that there are more than 12,000 VA social workers who provide care and services for our nation’s Veterans.”

Dr. Yasisca Pujols was also recognized for her efforts and contributions to the Cameron County Veterans Treatment Court, which she directly interacts with as a Veterans Justice Outreach coordinator for VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System. The Veterans Justice Outreach program, which commonly known as VJO, was created to provide timely access to VA services for eligible Veterans to avoid unnecessary criminalization and incarceration of Veteran offenders with mental illness.

“The VA is making a system-wide effort to ensure access to services for all Veterans at risk for homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness, and physical health issues,” said Perez.“Having top-county leaders like Judge Treviño, and Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio take part in events that recognize the outstanding work being done by our employees is proof that system-wide efforts such as the VJO program are working, along with many of our other social work programs and services.”

“It feels very good to receive an award and be recognized by important leaders in the community, but I think the real reward is having the opportunity to serve our Veterans,” said social worker Maribel Barcenas.



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Published on Mar. 28, 2018

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