Late Breaking News
Army Urgently Seeks More Substance-Abuse Counselors for Troubled Soldiers Cont.
The need for additional counselors is so critical that the Army conducted an expedited hiring process from Aug. 1 to Aug. 15 this year. Qualified counseling psychologists, social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, as well as licensed professional counselors, were encouraged to apply for full-time, permanent positions.
Fort Bragg, Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Hood, Fort Bliss, Fort Benning, plus overseas locations in Germany and Korea have shortages of counselors.
Officials said salaries offered would range from $50,287 to $105,897 annually, and hired counselors would receive full Department of the Army Civilian benefits. Additional incentives would include hiring, relocation and retention bonuses, and repayment of student loans.
“We have been basically at war for 10 years,” said Joy Kush, chief of Medcell at the Army Civilian Human Resources Agency North Central Region. “We have soldiers and their families who have been separated and have dealt with so many stressors that are associated with that, and there are instances where these individuals have turned to substance abuse as a means of coping. These counselors will be able to make such a difference in the lives of these soldiers and their family members.”
In order to help speed the process of finding counselors, Secretary of the Army John McHugh signed a directive authorizing ASAP to employ licensed professional counselors as independent practitioners.
Previously, DoD regulations forbade hiring licensed professional counselors as independent practitioners. In the military, these providers are mostly limited to working under supervision while they are not in the private sector. McFarling said removing these restrictions would help the Army compete with the civilian community in hiring licensed professional counselors.
“This allows us to recruit a market we hadn’t been able to reach before and to put them on board in an equity position with their other professional cohorts and to be recognized as independent practitioners,” said McFarling.
The decision to make this change was based on an Institute of Medicine (IoM) study that determined “there was no difference in the quality [of] care between licensed professional counselors and licensed clinical social workers, those with masters in social work with certification, or licensed marriage and family therapists,” he said.