Pictured above are VA employees and volunteers during the Boots & Badges Care Package Drive at the Vet Center in Laredo, Texas. The event collected more than 600 donated items within the first hour of the event. All the items were sent to deployed service members from Laredo, Texas. Photo by Luis H. Loza Gutierrez
Who are the hundreds of VA employees at Vet Centers?
A team of counselors, psychologists, social workers, and outreach specialists, among others, make up the 300 Vet Centers across the country. These teams welcome home and honor those who served, those still serving, and their families by reaching out to them, engaging their communities and providing them with quality readjustment counseling and timely referral.
“It’s all about decreasing barriers to care…”
Vet Centers are community based counseling centers that provide a wide range of counseling, outreach and referral services to eligible Veterans, active duty service members and their families. Vet Center staff guide eligible men and women through the various challenges that often occur after individuals return from deployment or exposure to other traumatic situations.
Services for eligible individuals include individual, group, marriage, family counseling for challenges such as the symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance abuse, suicidal or homicidal ideations, and socio-economic issues. Counseling and referral are also provided for those that experience a sexual trauma while in the military or inactive training status. Vet Centers also provide connection to other VA and community resources.
Vet Center services are provided to family members of Veterans and service members for military-related concerns when it is found to aid in the readjustment of those who served. This includes bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death.
All services are at no cost and are strictly confidential and do not require someone to be enrolled in VA health care or have received a service connection for conditions caused by military service. These services are also provided regardless of the nature of the Veteran’s discharge, including individuals with problematic discharges (dishonorable discharges).
More than 300 Vet Centers are located throughout the United States. Veterans living in rural areas may also access these services through Mobile Vet Centers which travel from county to county to reach as many Veterans as possible.
There are 80 Mobile Vet Centers designed to reach those in underserved areas.
Mike Fisher, chief officer of Readjustment Counseling Service at VA says, “We’re really changing the model of what a Vet Center is. It’s all about decreasing barriers to care, and giving each Vet Center the flexibility to create a model of care that meets the needs of the local community.”
In addition to the 300 traditional Vet Centers, the Vet Center program also provides services at approximately 1,000 Community Access Points throughout the country such as local YMCAs, churches or schools to help reach more Veterans, active duty service members, and families.
Vet Center Call Center 877-WAR-VETS (927-8387)
Readjustment Counseling Service also provides around the clock support through its Vet Center Call center. Those who served in war and their families can call and talk about their military experience or any other issue they are facing in their readjustment. Those who answer are combat Veterans from various period of service as well as family members of combat Veterans.