Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration Peer Support Apprentice/Specialist in Fort Meade, South Dakota

Job Overview

Job Overview

Vacancy Identification Number (VIN): 1984656 OUR MISSION**: To fulfill President Lincoln's promise – "To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan" – by serving and honoring the men and women who are America's Veterans. How would you like to become a part of a team providing compassionate care to Veterans?

The VA Black Hills Health Care System (VA BHHCS) is located in the beautiful Black Hills of Western South Dakota. South Dakota has No State Income Tax, has been named one of the Happiest and Safest States in the nation, is home to Top Ten Scenic Drives and Top Ten National Forests, features an Outdoor Life's Top City for Outdoor Enthusiasts and hosts the legendary annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

VA BHHCS is where we live and work in rural small town settings, only minutes from Rapid City's shopping, dining, cultural, and entertainment venues. We offer rich history, including Mammoths and Prehistoric Civilizations, the 7th Cavalry, Deadwood, and Mount Rushmore. Hiking, fishing, rock climbing, canoeing, water skiing, golf, snowmobiling, hunting, camping, downhill and cross country skiing, motorcycling--the opportunities are endless. The Black Hills includes stunning landscapes such as Black Elk Peak, Bear Butte, the Badlands and the Needles Highway. When it's time for civilization, you'll find the Black Hills hosting local and national theatre groups, movie companies, national pow wow competitions, international dance troupes, symphony orchestras, and a variety of entertainers. Sports enthusiasts will find auto races, college sports, semi-pro hockey, and some of the best in rodeo.

VA BHHCS is a multi-campus health care system, with approximately 1100 employees, providing primary care, acute medicine, surgery, behavioral health, nursing home and domiciliary care from medical centers located at Fort Meade and Hot Springs, South Dakota as well as a staffed Community Based Outreach Clinic in Rapid City and numerous contracted and staffed clinics in Western South Dakota, Northern Nebraska and Eastern Wyoming.

Special Employment Consideration: VA encourages persons with disabilities to apply, including those eligible for hiring under 5 CFR 213.3102(u), Schedule A, Appointment of persons with disabilities [i.e., intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities], and/or Disabled veterans with a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more. Contact the Agency Contact on the last page of the JOA for information on how to apply under this appointment authority via the Selective Placement Coordinator.

For more information on the "Who may apply" eligibility requirements, please refer to the OHRM Status Candidates and Other Candidate Definitions document.


The entry level Peer Support Apprentice position, itself, does not provide any known promotion potential. All selected applicants will be required to obtain certification within one year of appointment. Once certification is obtained the applicant will be fully qualified for future non-time limited Peer Specialist opportunities. Peer support apprentices serve in a developmental capacity and do not receive the full range of assignments performed by Peer Specialist positions.

This position involves a multi-grade career ladder. At the GS-5 grade level, you will perform assignments of a more limited scope and with less independence. You will progressively acquire the background necessary to perform at the full performance level of GS-9. Promotion is at the discretion of the supervisor and is contingent upon satisfactory performance, obtaining certification, availability of higher level work, and availability of funds.

Duties: Assigned to the Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation & Treatment Program (MHRRTP) which includes PTSD, addictions, vocational and homeless services of the Mental Health Service. The Peer Specialist serves as a recovery agent by providing and advocating for any effective recovery that will aid the veteran in daily living. As such, he/she participates in the service, training, consultation and other professional activities of the rehabilitation treatment program and functions as a full professional member of the multi-disciplinary team assisting physicians and other profession/non-professional personnel in a rehabilitation treatment program. The incumbent performs a variety of therapeutic and supportive tasks that include assisting their peers in articulating their goals for 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. Accessing transportation and driving a government car may be required as work is performed in a wide range of settings, including within the Medical Center, Community Based Outpatient Clinics, and in community or private family homes.

Work Schedule: Full-time with rotating shifts to include days and evenings. Nights, weekends and holidays may be required. Functional Statement Title/#: Peer Support Apprentice/Specialist

Location:Fort Meade, SD, VA Black Hills Health Care System, Mental Health Service Line

Note: This position does not require a financial disclosure.

Promotion Potential: The selectee may be promoted to the full performance level without further competition when all regulatory, qualification, and performance requirements are met. Selection at a lower grade level does not guarantee promotion to the full performance level.

Supervisory Status


Promotion Potential


Travel Required
  • Occasional Travel
  • Travel may be required to alternate VA Black Hills sites and within the community
Relocation Authorized
  • No
Who May Apply
This job is open to…

Veterans Recruitment

Questions? This job is open to 1 group.

Job Requirements

Job Requirements
Key Requirements
  • You must be a U.S. citizen to apply for this job.
  • Subject to a background/suitability investigation.
  • Designated and/or random drug testing may be required.
  • Restricted to eligible veterans in mental health recovery.
  • Selective Service Registration is required for males born after 12/31/1959.
  • Must submit all required documents.
  • Valid state issued drivers license is required.

To qualify for this position, applicants must meet all requirements by the closing date of this announcement.

Basic Requirements:

a. Citizenship.Citizen of the United States.

b. Veteran.Must be a veteran who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released there from under conditions other than dishonorable.

c. Certification (if applying as a GS 6 – GS 9).Must have Peer Support certification from a not-for-profit entity engaged in Peer Specialist training as having met such criteria as the Secretary shall establish for a Peer Specialist position OR from a State as having satisfied relevant State requirements for a Peer Specialist position.

d. Physical Requirements.See VA Directive and Handbook 5005 or 5019.

e. Length of Experience as a Consumer of Mental Health Recovery Services.Veterans must have spent a minimum of 1 year in personal recovery from a mental health condition.

Specialized Experience:

Specialized experience is progressively responsible, post-personal mental health recovery experience as a mentor providing supportive peer services in Mental Health and addiction recovery, a recovery advocate directly involved with consumers of mental health services, a psychiatric therapy aide, or equivalent work involving in-person communication to support others in mental health recovery.

For GS-5,no specialized experience is required beyond the basic requirements. In all cases, Peer Support Apprentices must actively pursue becoming certified as required to serve as a Peer Specialist by 38 U.S.C. 7402(b)(13)(B). At the time of appointment, the supervisor will provide the Peer Support Apprentice with the written requirements for becoming certified, the date by which he or she must become certified, and the consequences for not becoming certified by the deadline. Failure to become certified by the prescribed date will result in removal from this GS-102 occupation and mayresult in termination of employment.

For GS-6 you must have at least 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-5 level in the Federal Service closely related to the work of this position OR you must have successfully completed six months of graduate education in a degree program directly related to the work of this position. OR you must have successfully completed a 1 year post-bachelor's degree internship directly related to the work of this position. At this level, you are able to work from specific instructions for the performance of routine duties and detailed instructions and training in performance of the routine functions. Your work is closely monitored including having work checked in progress and reviewing completed work for accuracy.

*For GS-7 *you must have at least 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-6 level in the Federal Service closely related to the work of this position OR you must have successfully completed 1 year of graduate education in a degree program directly related to the work of this position. At this level, routine work has been completed with minimal supervisory oversight and review, however close supervision will have been provided for complex and unusual tasks.

For GS-8you must have at least 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-7 in the Federal Service closely related to the work of this position OR you must have successfully completed 1-1/2 years of graduate education in a degree program directly related to the work of this position. At this level, you have the ability to work with general instructions for the performance of routine duties and detailed instructions and/or training in performance of the non-routine functions and special assignments. Non-routine/novel work will have been reviewed by spot checking and after completion to evaluate the adequacy of methods, procedures, results, ability to solve new and changing problems, etc.;

For GS-9 level you must have at least 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-8 in the Federal Service closely related to the work of this position OR you must have successfully completed 2 full years of graduate education OR obtained a master's degree directly related to the work of this position. At this level, work will have been performed with considerable independence and you are responsible for making recommendations to the interdisciplinary treatment team that can be relied on for soundness of judgment and maturity of insight on problem cases.

A transcript must be submitted with your application if you are basing all or part of your qualifications on education.

References: VA Handbook 5005, Part II, Appendix F3. This can also be found in the local Human Resources Office.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religions; spiritual; community; student; social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

Note: Only education or degrees recognized by the U.S. Department of Education from accredited colleges, universities, schools, or institutions may be used to qualify for Federal employment. You can verify your education here: If you are using foreign education to meet qualification requirements, you must send a Certificate of Foreign Equivalency with your transcript in order to receive credit for that education.

Physical Requirements: The applicant must be able to perform primarily light and sedentary duties with occasionally moderate physical demands, exercise patience, and control emotions, with reasonable accommodation if necessary, without endangering the health and safety of the applicant or others.

Time-in-grade: Applicants who are current Federal employees and have held a GS grade any time in the past 52 weeks must also meet time-in-grade requirements. Proper documentation must be submitted with your application.

Security Clearance


Additional Information

Additional Information
What To Expect Next

After we receive application packages (including all required documents) and the vacancy announcement closes, we will review applications to ensure qualification and eligibility requirements are met. During our review, if your résumé and application package do not support your questionnaire answers, we will adjust your rating accordingly. After the review is complete, a referral certificate(s) is issued and applicants will be notified of their status by email (if provided); otherwise, applicants will receive a notification letter via the U.S. Postal Service. Referred applicants will be notified as such and may be contacted directly by the hiring office for an interview. All referred applicants receive a final notification once a selection decision has been made.

You may check the status of your application at any time by logging into your USAJOBS account and clicking on “Application Status.” For a more detailed update of your status, click on “more information.” Information regarding applicant notification points can be found in the USAJobs Resource Center.


VA offers a comprehensive benefits package. This link provides an overview of the benefits currently offered:

VA supports the use of telework as a way to help attract and retain talented individuals in public service, increase worker productivity, and better prepare the agency to operate during emergencies. This position may be authorized for telework. Telework eligibility will be discussed during the interview process.

Other Information

Receiving Service Credit for Earning Annual (Vacation) Leave : Federal Employees earn annual leave at a rate (4, 6 or 8 hours per pay period) which is based on the number of years they have served as a Federal employee. VA may offer newly-appointed Federal employee's credit for their job-related non-federal experience or active duty uniformed military service. This credited service can be used in determining the rate at which they earn annual leave. Such credit must be requested and approved prior to the appointment date and is not guaranteed.

Placement Policy: The posting of this announcement does not obligate management to fill a vacancy or vacancies by promotion. The position may be filled by reassignment, change to lower grade, transfer, appointment, or reinstatement. Management may use any one or any combination of these methods to fill the position.

It is the policy of the VA to not deny employment to those that have faced financial hardships or periods of unemployment.**

This job opportunity announcement may be used to fill additional vacancies.

This job originated on For the full announcement and to apply, visit Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at will be considered.

Open & closing dates: 2017-07-10 to 2017-07-28

Salary: $32,844 to $64,697 / per year

Pay scale & grade: GS 05 - 09

Series: 0102 Social Science Aid and Technician

Appointment type: Permanent

Work schedule: Full Time

Job announcement number: BH-17-265-BS-1984656-BU

Control number: 474063600