Out of all the VA services I tell fellow Veterans about, Vet Centers might be at the top of the list. The revolutionary idea of community-based mental health and readjustment counseling began after the Vietnam War, and now over 300 Vet Centers are found across the country. The newest one just opened in the Oak Park area of Chicago, the eighth in the city.
From the Chicago Tribune:
The Oak Park Vet Center offers individual, family and group therapy; employment assistance; and support for family members of active duty military personnel. “Our services are available to all veterans who have served in combat, to any veteran who experienced sexual trauma in the military and to family members of military service members who are deployed,” said Jeanne Douglas, Team Leader of the Oak Park Vet Center. “We are thrilled to be able to serve hundreds of area veterans and their families in our beautiful new location. Our new Vet Center location features plenty of parking, access to public transportation and a comfortable environment to welcome our clients.”
Douglas hits on a few important points. Vet Centers are typically in nondescript buildings away from bustling medical centers, so it can be a much more welcoming environment than a big hospital. And the program is unique in two ways: family members qualify for counseling services along with Veterans, and they’re usually staffed with fellow combat Vets.
Also, if the hours aren’t convenient, you can work with the scheduler to make an afterhours or weekend appointment.
There’s probably a Vet Center somewhere near you, so check them out.