History of Navy Social Work
Before 1980, a succession of relief and social service agencies, and a variety of medical and administrative personnel provided social work services in naval medical treatment facilities. Founded in 1881, the American Red Cross established its long tradition of providing social services to military families and personnel in medical treatment facilities. Before World War II, the American Red Cross provided a limited number of social workers to assist at naval medical facilities. Beginning in the 1920s, the Navy Relief Society provided a visiting nurse service to assist naval personnel and families with counseling and social service referraL At the end of World War II, the Navy Relief Society employed its first professional social worker to assist Navy members and families with psychosocial problems. However, most professional social work activities were confined to training volunteers to extend social services and assistance to Navy families. A noble effort, the Navy Relief Society's ability to provide services to hospitalized naval personnel and their families was always very limited.