- The United States: In the United States, social work’s relationship with the military began with the Red Cross in 1918. Since then, social workers have been connected to the military in various job types. Originally, social workers were employed by the military only for mental health services, but they have now expanded to provide services including family violence prevention, substance abuse treatment, medical work, family support, and policy consultation. As they are growing in variety of services, they are growing in size and influence. However, they are still under-staffed, and more social workers are always needed.
- Finland: In Finland, social work’s relationship with the military began with the creation of the Soldiers’ Information Office in 1942. Originally, the social workers employed here helped soldiers and their families with issues such as tax questions, wills, and war debts. In 1973, a social welfare office was established and the services social workers provided were expanded to include advocating, assessment of policies and programs, and leading support groups.
- South Africa: In South Africa, social work’s relationship with the military began during apartheid, before 1994. In this era, military social workers served in both apartheid and freedom forces. They provided occupational social work services in the apartheid forces and basic resources and support in the freedom forces. When apartheid ended, social workers were there to help with the transition.
- China: In China, there is basically no relationship between social work and the military. China has a social welfare system that works with military members and families, but there are not any social workers that were trained in or specialize in military work. The field of social work is still growing in China, so relationships with the military might happen in the future.
Military Social Work: A Multi-Country Comparison