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Peer Support Specialist (JR 1374) Veteran Services

Lancaster, California · Volunteering/Non-Profit
JOB ID: 1374
Full Time
Wage: DOE


The Peer Specialist functions as a member of a team in the HUD-VASH program, providing support, mentorship, and guidance for chronically homeless Veterans. Peer Support Specialists perform a variety of therapeutic and supportive tasks that include assisting their peers in articulating their goals to recovery, learning and practicing new skills, helping them monitor their progress, assisting them in their treatment, modeling effective coping techniques and self-help strategies based on the specialist’s own recovery experience, and supporting them in advocating for themselves to obtain effective services. The incumbent functions as a role model, exhibiting competency in personal recovery and use of coping skills; serves as a consumer advocate, provides information and peer support for Veterans in outpatient and inpatient settings. This individual must have the ability to assist others in treatment based on the principles of recovery and resiliency. By inspiring the hope that recovery and resiliency are achievable goals, the incumbent can assist others who are diagnosed with mental illness or co-occurring disorders to achieve their personal recovery goals by promoting self-determination, personal responsibility, and the empowerment inherent in self-directed recovery. The incumbent performs a wide range of tasks to assist peers of all ages, from young adult to old age, in regaining independence within the community and mastery over their own recovery process.


The Peer Specialist serves as a recovery agent by providing and advocating for any effective recovery based services that will aid the Veteran in daily living. They orient Veterans new to the programs in which they work about the services, hours, locations, staff and other pertinent information necessary for the Veteran to understand the program and how to utilize it. The Peer Specialist assists Veterans to articulate personal goals for recovery through the use of one-to-one and group sessions. During these sessions, they assist Veterans in identifying their skills, strengths, supports and the resources needed to aid them in achieving those goals.
Utilizing his/her personal recovery experience, the Peer Specialist may:
  • Teach and role model the value of every individual’s recovery experience.
  • Assist the Veteran in exploring options for obtaining decent and affordable housing of his/her choice in the most integrated, independent and least intrusive or restrictive environment, by making referrals to appropriate VA housing programs. Model effective coping techniques and self-help strategies.
  • Assist in obtaining services that suit the individual’s recovery needs.
  • Inform Veterans about community and mutual supports and how to use these in the recovery process. Community resources may include but are not limited to consumer run self-help and mutual support services, social security office, Department of Family and Children services, local YMCA, library, restaurants, Veterans’ service organizations, apartment complexes and other types of housing, etc.
  • Assist Veterans in developing empowerment skills and combating stigma through self-advocacy. This will be accomplished through regular meetings, individual or group sessions through the use of role playing/modeling techniques.
  • Serves as liaison with community-based consumer-run and/or consumer-supportive natural supports and self-reliance strategies.
  • Provide support of Veterans’ vocational choices and assist them in choosing a job that matches their strengths, overcoming job-related anxiety by reviewing job applications, and providing interview tips and practice sessions.
  • Assist Veterans in building social skills in the community that will enhance job acquisition and tenure using such techniques as role playing.
The Peer Specialist may occasionally handle crisis interventions for any program patient or address other emergency situations without benefit of specific instructions. Such extraordinary interventions will be carefully documented and communicated to the team in a timely manner.


The work requires practical understanding of some of the principles, methods, and techniques of psychology, social work, sociology and counseling but do not require specific formal education.

  • Knowledge of the common therapeutic practices and ability to use a wide range of methods or tools commonly taught in formal peer support training certification programs is essential. The incumbent must have demonstrated ability to establish and maintain effective person-to-person relationships, skill in oral and written communication, ability to inspire confidence and motivate individuals, and capacity for leadership.

  • Knowledge of the signs and symptoms of mental illness (i.e., auditory and visual hallucinations, aggressive talk and behavior, thoughts of self-harm or harm towards others, isolation) and the ability to assist the Veteran to address symptoms of using strategies such as positive self-talk. Understanding of common psychiatric disorders and knowledge of the diagnostic scheme for mental illnesses, as found in the DSM-IV-TR, including those with addictions and dual diagnosis.​

  • Knowledge and skill sufficient to use community resources necessary for independent living and ability to teach those skills to other individuals. Community resources may include but are not limited to community-based consumer-run self-help and mutual support services, social security office, Department of Family and Children services, local YMCA, library, restaurants, Veterans’ service organizations, housing providers, etc.

  •  Knowledge of the Recovery process and ability to facilitate Recovery Dialogues using common recovery tools. Knowledge of and ability to use effective communication skills to teach and engage in problem solving and conflict resolution strategies to support individual Veterans in self-directed recovery. 

  • ​Knowledge of crisis-oriented counseling, including methods for effective triage and the standards for handling violent or suicidal patients safely. 

  • Knowledge of Management and Prevention of Disruptive Behavior techniques. 

  • Knowledge of basic group dynamics and how to establish and sustain self-help (mutual support) and educational groups by soliciting input from mental health consumers on their strengths and interests. Awareness of eligibility requirements for patient services relevant to the behavioral health program. Understanding how roles of ethnicity, race, spirituality, gender, sexual orientation, local community and other sub-cultures may influence recovery.

Required Qualifications

  • Lived experience with homelessness, mental health or substance abuse; Peer Specialist Certification preferred
  • Employment Eligibility Verification
  • Updated tuberculosis test
  • Successful completion of background screening
  • CPR/First Aid Training
  • Driving is an essential function of this position
    • Must have Valid CA Driver's License
    • Must provide proof of insurance coverage
    • Must be able to qualify for PATH insurance coverage

Work Environment
The employee may be in contact with individuals and families in crisis who may be ill, using alcohol and drugs, and who may not be attentive to basic personal hygiene, health and safety practices. The employee may experience a number of unpleasant sensory demands associated with the client’s use of alcohol and drugs, and lack of personal hygiene. The employee must be ready to respond quickly and effectively to many types of situations, including crisis situations and potentially hostile situations. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate in an office setting. Sometimes work may become stressful when working under pressure.
Physical Demands
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand, sit, walk, stoop, talk, hear, reach above and below shoulders; use hand and finger dexterity, keyboarding and making and receiving telephone calls. The employee may be required on occasion to lift and or carry up to 20 lbs.
PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, PATH complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training

How to apply Please visit the Path Career Site to apply online. Search for Job #1374 to submit your application. A resume is required

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