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Social work pioneer



Col. Stan Remer

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the largest employer of master’s-level social workers in the United States — and Col. Stan Remer, MSW ’68, is a big reason why.

Remer graduated from the MU School of Social Work during the height of the Vietnam War. As a medical social worker at a VA medical center in the 1970s, he saw many soldiers coming back with PTSD.

“We were learning that we needed to treat mental health more forward into the battlefield,” he says. “It’s a lot better if they can deal with combat stress early on.”

In 1977, he helped start the first U.S. Army Reserve psychiatric detachment. It was the first time social workers were integrated into the military combat theater of operations, and it laid the foundation for a major change in the way the VA used social workers.

After 34 years in leadership positions advocating for the role of social work in the VA, Remer retired in 2005. Today, he is a congressional and legislative liaison for the Association of VA Social Workers, representing the now more than 16,000 master’s-level social workers in the VA.

He and his wife recently endowed the Stanley G. and Sondra S. Remer Scholarship Fund at the School of Social Work. The scholarship is for someone who exemplifies the goals of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work in integrating Christian faith and professional social work.