Working as a veterans counselor means dealing with people having unique needs. Most veterans often come back from war with injuries, illness, and other stress-related ailments because of the nature of interactions during combat. In most cases, they develop post-traumatic stress disorder because of the experiences they encounter in war zones and related activities (Career in Psychology, 2017). Similarly, others have to live with long-term stress as they deal with the loss of friends and companions. Therefore, such people require the services of counselors to help them cope with diverse issues and problems that can traumatize them to the extent of committing suicide. Distinctively, veterans counselors assist returning soldiers with diverse issues such as providing general readjustment counseling services, treating mental problems, and providing rehabilitation (Goldfarb, 2015). Moreover, they also work with families of service members and help school-aged children whose parents have gone to war and spouses returning to the workforce. Nonetheless, a veterans’ counselor can provide direct counseling and act as an advocate for veterans while also working for the government.
Job Description and Specifications
The grade for this position ranges from G11-G15. An individual filling this post is classified to perform diverse administrative and direct roles for soldiers and their families. The position requires the assignee to conduct comprehensive interviews with veterans and their families, provide counseling services to dependents, provide advisory services on benefits and services where they are eligible, facilitate access to benefits, and ensure that guidelines governing veterans are followed.
The position requires that a person operate both indoors and outdoors. The working environment varies as it ranges from silent to noisy while performing specified roles. To some extent, the position requires one to lift heavy equipment with assistance from other people while conducting counseling sessions.
A person filling this position must:
- Be able to apply knowledge of laws, guidelines, and practices that affect veterans and their families, as well as be abreast with daily changes and happenings.
- Conduct daily reviews of current and existing human services and programs such as medical care and senior pharmacy payment services and how they affect veterans.
- Stay current and fully understand pertinent issues in the Department of Veterans Affairs such as health administration, benefits management, and cemetery system, among others.
- Comprehensively review the court of appeal decisions involving veterans such as processing claims and benefits if awarded so. They must consistently follow up on such claims to determine disposition.
- Extensively help veterans to complete application forms involving claims so that they may be adequately compensated for the work done during combat activities.
- Critically review and provide updates to veterans’ files on a regular basis to ascertain possibilities of new claims and benefits necessitated by daily changes.
- Help in the daily preparations of information briefs and miscellaneous reports that aid veteran administration processes.
- Effectively use sophisticated and automated technology equipment to access records of veterans locally and in regional offices.
- Procedurally coordinate transportation of veterans to local centers and agencies so that veterans can be attended to and made to access vital services.
- Communicate appropriately and efficiently both orally and in writing when handling pertinent issues concerning veterans and their families.
- Effectively understand and follow both oral and written instructions and procedures when dealing with issues relating to veterans and their benefits.
- Be able to establish and maintain good working relationships with other workers, federal and local agencies, veterans and their families, and the general public.
- Be able to manage daily operations of the office in the absence of senior personnel in the department and conduct any other duty as assigned by superiors.
The position requires that the applicant:
- Must be a high school graduate or its equivalent in addition to possessing one-year work experience in areas dealing with case management and administration of benefits.
- Must possess an associate degree in business-related fields and human services or its equivalent.
- Must possess prior work experience in dealing with veteran benefits and certified personnel on veteran services. To some extent, the position is relevant for people who have been veterans and served as members of the armed forces in the United States and who have completed their terms or separated under honorable and recognized situations.
- Must have three years’ working experience in areas dealing with interviewing, counseling or any other work activity related to veterans’ administration and management.
- Must have a valid driving license.
- The desired skills for this position include the competent use of office equipment, personal computers, diverse software applications, ability to communicate effectively both in oral and written form, and good interpersonal relationships with co-workers and the general public.
Compensation and Benefits Package
The position can be filled either on a permanent or temporary basis. On an interim basis, one is eligible to apply for promotions and transfers within the department. Further, a temporary member also enjoys the rights and benefits associated with veteran administration and management.
Workers are entitled to thirteen (13) paid holidays annually; this gives employees the opportunities of rejuvenating as they spend some time away from work. Moreover, employees are entitled to paid vacation which is rationalized to be 21 days within the first year of service and employment.
Furthermore, a veteran counselor is entitled to paid leave that is rationalized at the same rate as vacation depending on years of working, and there is no limitation in case somebody wishes to accumulate. For instance, expectant mothers can successfully use sick leaves to attend to matters related to pregnancy. Besides, unused accumulated leaves can be used to calculate and increase retirement packages depending on situations.
The position is associated with comprehensive health insurance whereby part of the premium is paid by the state while the employees foot the rest of the bill. Significantly, a group free life insurance coverage is provided for the veteran counselor and other employees providing services related to veteran administration and management.
The veteran counselor is entitled to a comprehensive retirement plan where the state contributes retirement premiums and packages for eligible members. In respect to rationalization, employees who have served for more than ten years and have attained the age of 65 or those who have served for more than 30 years and have reached the age of 60 years may retire and access such benefits.
An individual serving in this position also has access to flexible spending accounts whereby eligible employees can effectively reduce their federal and state income taxes by benefiting from tax-saving programs.
Just like employees of other sectors in the economy, veteran counselors are eligible for transport benefits which helps them increase their incomes by having the employer deduct transport services through pre-tax payroll systems. Employees are also able to build on their incomes through pre-tax retirement packages offered for this position.
Also, veteran counselors are entitled to temporary disability insurance benefits in case employees are injured or succumb to illness during work activities. They are also in a position to access social security benefits; this is deducted from salaries then submitted to institutions managing the funds.
All employees are given equal treatment with respect to promotions and transfer opportunities.
Individuals in this position are guaranteed training and development through available in-service programs and opportunities. They are also entitled to study leave whereby they can advance their knowledge and skills through further education.
A lot of incentives and service awards are offered to employees who perform exemplarily well and are recognized for their contributions to the achievement of goals and objectives.
Lastly, employees are free to join unions to negotiate salaries and benefits through collective bargaining.
Performance Appraisal Program
Job Title: Veteran Counselor
Review period start: 1/1/2017
Review period end: 31/12/2017
Job Knowledge– Exceeds expectations/ Meets expectations/ Below average
Ascertain whether the employee conducts further research on issues affecting veterans. The employee must prove that he/she is conversant with current developments likely to improve work performance. The employee must demonstrate effective use of office equipment and ensure that they are put to maximum use. The employee must effectively demonstrate the use of requisite skills and knowledge on issues concerning the management of veterans and their families. The employee must show a strong ability to learn with a passion for improving on service provision, and should work with minimum supervision, while displaying better understanding and interpersonal skills.
Communications– Exceeds expectations/ Meets expectations/ Below average
The employee shows adequate understanding of written and oral communication; the ability to listen carefully and attentively; ability to comprehend information including complex matters; implements highly effective and sophisticated communication tools; displays good verbal and written skills; informs clients promptly.
Judgment– Exceeds expectations/ Meets expectations/ Below average
Makes prudent and quick decisions on matters pertaining to veteran benefits; incorporates other people in decision-making while respecting their opinions; makes decisions based on rational thinking and awareness of practical issues; explains the reasoning behind every decision made; effectively makes decisions even under tight conditions and timelines.
Adaptability– Exceeds expectations/ Meets expectations/ Below average
The employee experiences no problems while adapting to job changes; balances demands and time; easily accepts criticism and feedback; easily adjusts according to the demands of the work.
Cost Consciousness– Exceeds expectations/ Meets expectations/ Below average
The employee must have shown the ability to operate within the approved budget; implement new ideas likely to cut on cost; efforts put in work should make substantial contributions to improving the welfare of veterans; gets excellent results through efforts aimed at managing scarce organizational resources.
Business Ethics– Exceeds expectations/ Meets expectations/ Below average
The employee contributes and solves problems of veterans without hurting them; keeps promises and shows commitment; earns respect from co-workers, clients, and the general public; displays exemplary ethical standards and behavior; and upholds work ethics, values, and integrity at all times.
Indicate whether the employee has shown exceeds expectations/ meets expectations/ below average on the period appraised depending on the ability shown.
Veteran counselor acknowledgement:
Veteran Counselor Signature ________________________ Date ___________
Appraiser Signature _________________________ Date ___________