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The Social Service Division of the Department of Veterans' Affairs : its origin, setting, and functions : a study based on the Division in the British Columbia district Clayden, Florence Virginia

Abstract

This study is primarily a descriptive account of the development and the work of the Social Service Division in its background setting of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. It covers the historical development of the various Canadian departments of government concerned with the ex-serviceman's welfare from the beginning of World War I in 1914 to the present time. Information was drawn from annual reports and publications, mimeographed material of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, including statistical reports of the British Columbia Division, supplemented by interviews with staff members of the British Columbia District Office. The veterans' department was born of a military program and of the resulting physical need of wounded discharged soldiers for medical treatment. From this beginning developed the recognition of the value of a rehabilitation program for those physically handicapped because of war service. This need for rehabilitation was extended gradually until it covered all veterans of World War II and preceding wars. The coverage has moved steadily from the medical to the total welfare needs of the veteran. The Department has emerged as one of Canada's largest welfare agencies, veterans being segregated from their fellow civilians by legislation granting special benefits because of special risks. The role of the profession of social work in this setting has been exploratory. In the early 1920's, the social worker is described as being a nurse with special training; the profession of social work was not recognized. Today, only social workers trained in an accredited School of Social Work are accepted as employees of the Division. As far as direct case work is concerned, the Division operates largely as a referring agency although direct service is given in some instances. The Division is now experimenting with an in-service training program in social work concepts for Veterans' Welfare Officers and other Departmental personnel. This would make the social worker available to these persons on a consultative basis. In the present setting, the professional social worker has to prove the value of her work by performance.

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