By: Cassidy Brown '17
From his military service to the classroom, Joseph Diachesyn '17, continues to look for ways to serve his country. After suffering a back injury, Diachesyn could no longer serve as a solider. Rather than seeing this as a deterrent, he decided to begin an internship at the Department of Veterans Affairs to give back to his fellow veterans.
Diacheysn is also currently enrolled in the Advanced Standing Program at the School of Social Work, and will be graduating this May. After serving overseas in Afghanistan, Diachesyn realized that the care for veterans could be enhanced and that he could help.
"A lot of veterans who seek care from the VA. I wanted to help my fellow veterans in becoming comfortable in their situations and feeling okay to get help," he says. When asked why he decided to pursue social work, Diacheysn pauses. "I don't know. Social work just felt right to me." Hee explains that working for the VA is particularly important to him because veterans tend to open up to other veterans, regardless of age or time/war served.
Diacheysn interns with the Community Living Center, which is a geriatric home for veterans who are 70% or more disabled. As an intern they take on case manager role. It this role, Diacheysn handles veteran's financial and personal issues. In addition to this, he has developed a discharge planning group to helps veterans with multiple day-to-day tasks, such as retrieving WiFi, getting transportation to visit family, and reporting any obstacles to handle funds to the regional VA benefits office. This four week curriculum allows veterans to better prepare for discharge. Though most patients stay at the center for the long term, there are a few who are able to leave and return back home.
On a daily basis as an intern, Diachesyn facilitates discharges, new admissions, treatment plans, psycho-social assessments (initial and quarterly), and manages the respite program for the state of NJ. "The veterans love talking about their days in the services and what they did for that war," he says. "I believe that helping them has also helped me grow as a person."
Before his internship at the VA, Diachesyn received his first field placement via his professional development professor Cheryl Torres. Professor Torres got him involved with Empower Somerset in Somerville, N.J. There, Diacheysn facilitated groups for homeless veterans with substance abuse pasts. "Many of my social work professors have guided me to where I am today," he says. "From them, I've figured out exactly what I want to do."
His previous field placement had provided him with the tools necessary to implement group work, community work, and create curriculum. Diacheysn says, "I helped in the beginning stages of what the nonprofit organization does now, which includes providing these groups to active national guardsmen/reservists. My first internship helped me with my group skills and creativity in developing group curriculum."
Nancy Schley, associate director of field education and an instructor, worked with Diacheysn to secure his placement with the Department of Veterans Affairs. "It is gratifying to see students like Joseph perform well at their internships," she says. "And I'm particularly proud of them when they receive recognition. We try very hard to place students in field work based upon their interest, experience, and goals."
When he is not working, Diacheysn enjoys reading, working out, and spending time with his wife Angelica and nine-month old son, Vincent. He also is active in the community as a part of American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"My interest has grown. I still want to work with veterans" Diacheysn says, "but interning at the VA has provided me with the opportunity to work with geriatrics and older adults. Working with these individuals has been absolutely amazing."
Diacheysn hopes to become a permanent part of the VA and to stay in New Jersey, perhaps for at hospital or nonprofit organization.