Northampton resident Kelly Bauer is a Valley Health Partners Veteran Health Program case manager, where she helps veterans navigate their healthcare benefits by connecting them with the services they need and deserve. 

Although she began working in the Veteran Health Program in 2019, she got her start in social work long before then. 

Prior to working with veterans, Kelly worked at a group home for adults with schizophrenia, Penn Foundation in the outpatient mental health and outpatient drug and alcohol programs, and Treatment Trends Inc. Keenan House, which is an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility where she ran a grief and trauma program, a processing group, and a life skills group. 

“That was the most impactful work I did, in terms of my growth as a social worker,” she notes.

Kelly’s work has helped shape who she is as a person and as a social worker, and ultimately led to her specializing in treating PTSD and trauma.

“At the end of the day it’s gratifying work, but it’s tough because you see some really unfortunate situations,” says Kelly.

Kelly explains that a lot of time goes into helping each individual because phone calls only account for a fraction of the time she spends helping clients. She details that her work is never simply open and shut because things always need to be followed up on, resulting in more of an ongoing relationship that she develops with her clients. 

As a result, Kelly describes that the most rewarding things about her job are when she sees a veteran or client achieve their goals, the ability to walk beside her clients, and helping them get the benefits they deserve.

“It’s extremely rewarding to hear how relieved clients are to get some extra help because it helps them gain their sense of power and autonomy back,” Kelly adds.

Kelly divulges that her least favorite part of her job is enduring the systemic barriers that are in place, which prevent her from helping some clients to the fullest. 

“The job itself can be challenging, and the work can be tiring or even vicariously traumatizing at times due to being exposed to many difficult stories and sometimes difficult clients,” Kelly reveals, adding that this can also make managing her own self-care challenging.

However, Kelly’s compassion and pride in her work are evident as she explains, “I love helping people and having purposeful work. I love that I was able to make a career and earn a living by serving other people.”

When asked about some proud moments that she has had during her career as a social worker, Kelly shares the story of a client at Keenan House who had a long history of trauma and was finally able to process his trauma through treatment. 

At the beginning of his treatment, the client stated that in order to store all of his pain, he would need a container as big as a giant water tower. Then, towards the end of treatment during his graduation from the program, the client expressed that the container was now small enough to fit in his pocket.

“For him to tell me that his pain was now manageable enough that he can walk forward in his life without it controlling him anymore, I’ve never had that emotion before as a therapist. It was just incredible to hear that the work I did with him got him to that point,” Kelly boasts.

Another proud moment Kelly shares is the story of a female veteran that was in poor health, using a walker, and financially strained when she first met her. After getting services and better care in place for her, helping her acquire money for utilities, and getting her disability rating up to 100%, she invited Kelly to the Banana Factory where she had her art on display at an exhibit.

During the event, the veteran shared some poetry she had written, and Kelly explains that she “was so vibrant, wasn’t using her walker anymore, and just seemed so much more at peace.”

“It’s wonderful to see these transformations because these clients are all so deserving, and I just see them as people that have dignity and worth when society has told them otherwise. They just need some help to regain control of their life, and I’m able to help them with that.”

Kelly’s advice to individuals that are thinking about entering social work or are just getting started is to always remain curious because being a social worker is a never-ending learning process with so many proud moments along the way.

If you or someone you know is a veteran in need of healthcare services or help navigating complex healthcare systems, Valley Health Partners Veteran Health Program can be reached at 610-969-2082 to help set up a personalized care plan based on current needs.

Additionally, Valley Health Partners Veteran Health program and Joint Veterans of Northampton will be holding a Veterans Outreach Day on Saturday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Queenship of Mary, located at 1324 Newport Ave., Northampton. The event is open to all veterans, their families, and their caretakers to learn more about available services in the area. Some of the organizations that will be in attendance include the Northampton County Veterans Affairs, BattleBorne, Camp Freedom, VA Vet Center, Women Veterans Empowered and Thriving, PA National Guard service member and family support, PA CareerLink, Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living, PA Bar Association, Tricare/Humana, and more. 

The Home News is seeking essential workers in the community to interview for the ongoing feature, Noteworthy Neighbors. Emergency responders, teachers, local government, bus drivers, veterans, farmers, etc.; if you do essential work for a living, we want to hear from you. If you are interested in being interviewed and sharing with the community the work that you do, please email


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