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Stories from the Field: Social Work Student Supporting Veterans

As part of their field education commitment, Tulane University School of Social Work students are supporting a variety of populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes United States Veterans served by the New Orleans Veterans Medical Center.

Julia Freudenberger is an on-campus, full-time Master of Social Work student performing her field placement through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in New Orleans. As a social work intern assisting primarily with COVID-19 positive patients, she is aiding the ICU social worker and doing Psychosocial Assessments for the veterans in ICU. 

“Through these assessments, we are working to ensure they can be safely quarantined after they are discharged in order to maintain public health and safety,” she says. “If they are not able to communicate, I communicate with their emergency contact.”

Julia is part of a team working diligently to support and advocate for veterans and their families. “I am also working with mental health social workers and checking in with their veteran patients to see how they are doing during this stressful time and sharing mental health exercises and techniques for relieving anxiety, depression, and more,” Julia says.

She is working remotely for the VA, limiting her contact with vulnerable individuals and to keep everyone as safe as possible. 

What Julia is doing now is not what she was initially placed to do with her internship. “I was assigned to work originally in the Pain Evaluation Program which serves veterans with chronic pain syndrome and with integrative medicine as a Social Work Intern in Primary Care Mental Health Integration,” she says. 

She is stepping in and helping the ICU Social Worker in whatever way possible right now. “While this was not my original assignment, we are being flexible and adapting in this crisis,” she says.

Because Julia has always had a strong desire to serve U.S Veterans, she chose to apply for a field placement at the New Orleans VA. “I have three veterans in my family, and I admire their passion and service greatly,” she says. “Each of my family members had very personal reasons to join the military and spoke so positively to the importance of serving others and serving our country.”

Julia is showing her gratitude and admiration by serving those who serve our country. “Veterans and their families sacrifice more than we could imagine, to ensure that we have the freedom and safety that we do,” says Julia. “The least I could do is serve them at the VA in whatever way possible.” 

After graduating with her MSW from Tulane, Julia hopes to pursue a career as a social worker for veterans at the VA.


The above photo is of Julia with her grandfather, Herman Freudenberger. He served in the U.S. military during World War II, after escaping Nazi Germany and immigrating to the U.S. at age 12. Herman Freudenberger became a professor of Economics at Tulane University later in life.