The San Antonio Vet Center hosted an open house on June 14, 2019, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Vet Centers nationwide. Vet Centers provide readjustment counseling for eligible Veterans, service members, and their families.
“This is a very special day because it marks the progressive elements of how the VA is serving those who have been in combat, those who experience trauma, and their families in a holistic approach to care,” said Dr. Samuel Garcia, San Antonio Vet Center Director.
Dr. Emma Mata-Galan, Chief of Psychology Service, South Texas Veterans Healthcare System, spoke on the collaboration between the VA Medical Center (VAMC) and the Vet Center.
“For many years, we have forged a great relationship with our counterpart colleagues at the Vet Center,” she said. “We collaborate on difficult cases on a regular monthly basis and have added consultation with our Suicide Prevention office on potentially high-risk Veterans. There is a mutual collective effort in referring Veterans to ensure they are getting the care they need. We refer to each other on a regular basis to ensure our Veteran’s needs are taken care whether that may be medication management, family psychotherapy, couples’ therapy or evidenced-based therapies. Together we have a seamless process to ensure all our Veterans needs are met.”
Tony “Doc” Fuentes, a Vietnam Veteran and a staunch supporter of the Vet Center, reflected on his days coming home from the Vietnam War. “At times, I was ashamed of being a Veteran based on the actions and reactions from the public I received. The numerous nasty words and comments caused a few pains in my life. With the negativity and stigma of being a Veteran at the time, I spent a lot of time doing a few negative activities.”
“It took 18 years to start using the VA as a source for assistance. That source was the Vet Center, right here in San Antonio. After battling what we now know as PTSD, I am a recovered God-fearing family man, living a clean life and [as] a Veteran advocate.” -Vietnam Veteran Tony “Doc” Fuentes
Services provided at Vet Centers include:
- Individual and group counseling for Veterans, service members, and their families.
- Family counseling for military related issues.
- Bereavement (grief) counseling.
- Military sexual trauma counseling and referral.
- Community outreach and education.
- Substance abuse assessment and referral.
- Employment referral.
- Referral of other VA services.
Vet Center services are also provided to family members of Veterans and Service members for military-related issues when they aid in the readjustment of those who have served. This includes bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death.
To find out if you are eligible for Vet Center services, visit: https://www.vetcenter.va.gov/Eligibility.asp.
Eric Montgomery served 30 years in the United States Army. He has been a VA employee for the past 9 years and currently works for the Veterans Experience Office.