Before Donald (DJ) St.Clair, LMSW, started his career at Northwell Health, he first served as a Corporal in the US Marine Corps.
It was after his return from service while transitioning to a civilian career, that DJ first began to think about entering the healthcare industry. “Health care is a great opportunity for any veterans who are exiting the service as it will continue to give you a sense of purpose,” says DJ. “There is a sense of accomplishment because we are able to give back to the very community we served during our time in the military.”
With the encouragement and help of a social worker in the Office of Veterans Affairs, DJ continued his education to become a Licensed Master Social Worker to pursue a goal of being able to help veterans and their families. With his help, DJ was able to obtain benefits he didn’t know he had access to –something he’s able to pay forward in his new role as care coordinator within Northwell’s Military Liaison Services.
Transitioning from his role as a social worker at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, DJ is now in a unique position to combine his clinical experience and time in the military to provide support to other veterans. As care coordinator, DJ works to help service members, veterans, and their families access Northwell’s healthcare and community services, as well as assists them with connecting with local resources for additional support. It is the exact kind of role he hoped for when he started a career in mental health.
“Physical and mental health are very important in the well-being of everyone, but especially the veteran population,” says DJ. “There are a great number of benefits that the veteran population might not know about and I’m able to connect them to these important resources. I’m happy for the opportunity to give back to my brothers and sisters.”
Along with offering peer-to-peer guidance, DJ takes pride in being able to connect veterans to things such as service-connected disability benefits, education benefits, and a support system of organizations that are willing to help veterans transition back into the civilian world, such as Northwell Health.
And being a former veteran himself, DJ knows firsthand what it’s like to be in their position as they return home or to civilian life. It makes him uniquely qualified to connect with those who need it and to help them figure out their next steps.
“It can be a challenge to work through the common stigma around veterans that reaching for help means you are weak,” explains DJ. “In my role, I’m able to create a bond with them in a short time and explain that this assistance isn’t much different than being together in the military. The same way we rely on each other while in the service to have each other’s backs, they can rely on me here.”
Make the transition to a civilian career with Northwell Health. Learn more about our commitment to veterans.