WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced Aug. 14 that combat veterans will receive readjustment counseling and other assistance in 28 additional communities across the country where the Department of Veterans Affairs will establish vet centers in 2010.
"VA is committed to providing high-quality outreach and readjustment counseling to all combat veterans," Secretary Shinseki said. "These 28 new vet centers will address the growing need for those services."
The community-based vet centers, already in all 50 states, are a key component of VA's mental health program, providing veterans with mental health screening and post-traumatic stress disorder counseling.
The existing 232 centers conduct community outreach offering counseling on employment, family issues and education to combat veterans and family members. Staffs also offer bereavement counseling for families of servicemembers killed on active duty and counseling for veterans who were sexually harassed on active duty.
Vet center services are earned through service in a combat zone or area of hostility and are provided at no cost to veterans or their families.
They are staffed by small multidisciplinary teams, which may include social workers, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, master's-level counselors and outreach specialists. More than 70 percent of vet center employees are veterans themselves, a majority of whom served in combat zones.
The vet center program was established in 1979 by Congress, recognizing that many Vietnam veterans were still having readjustment problems. In 2008, the vet venter program provided more than 1.1 million visits to over 167,000 veterans, including over 53,000 visits by more than 14,500 veteran families. More information about vet centers can be found at www.vetcenter.va.gov/index.asp.
Communities receiving new VA vet centers include:
-- American Samoa
-- Arizona -- Mohave and Yuma Counties
-- California -- San Luis Obispo County
-- Delaware -- Sussex County
-- Florida -- Marion, Lake, Collier, Okaloosa and Bay Counties
-- Georgia -- Muscogee and Richmond Counties
-- Hawaii -- Western Oahu
-- Indiana -- St. Joseph County
-- Louisiana -- Rapides Parish
-- Michigan -- Grand Traverse County, also serving Wexford County
-- Missouri -- Boone County
-- Montana -- Cascade and Flathead Counties
-- Ohio -- Stark County
-- Oregon -- Deschutes County
-- Pennsylvania -- Lancaster County
-- South Carolina -- Horry County
-- Texas -- Jefferson and Taylor Counties
-- Utah -- Washington County
-- Washington -- Walla Walla County, also serving Umatilla County, Oregon
-- Wisconsin -- LaCrosse County, also serving Monroe County.