I was taking my truck into the dealership for service and for the first time I noticed a Vet Center in a nearby strip mall. What is a Vet Center and what do they do there?
The Vet Center Program was established by Congress in 1979 out of the recognition that a significant number of Vietnam era vets were still experiencing readjustment problems. Vet Centers are community based and part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In April 1991, in response to the Persian Gulf War, Congress extended the eligibility to veterans who served during other periods of armed hostilities after the Vietnam era. Those other periods are identified as Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, and Kosovo/Bosnia. In October 1996, Congress extended the eligibility to include WWII and Korean Combat Veterans. The goal of the Vet Center program is to provide a broad range of counseling, outreach, and referral services to eligible veterans in order to help them make a satisfying post-war readjustment to civilian life. On April 1, 2003 the Secretary of Veterans Affairs extended eligibility for Vet Center services to veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and on June 25, 2003 Vet Center eligibility was extended to veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and subsequent operations within the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The family members of all veterans listed above are eligible for Vet Center services as well. On August 5, 2003 VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi authorized Vet Centers to furnish bereavement counseling services to surviving parents, spouses, children and siblings of service members who die of any cause while on active duty, to include federally activated Reserve and National Guard personnel.
ELIGIBILITY: War Zone Veteran – all eras, including…
WORLD WAR II – Three eligible categories – European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign-Medal (7 Dec. 1941 to 8 Nov. 1945), Asiatic – Pacific Campaign Medal (7 Dec. 1941 to 2 Mar. 1946), or American Campaign Medal (7 Dec. 1941 to 2 Mar. 1946)
AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINES – In oceangoing service during the period of armed conflict, 7 Dec. 1941 to 15 Aug. 1945
KOREAN WAR – 27 June 1950 to – 27 July 1954 (eligible for the Korean Service Medal)
VIETNAM WAR – 28 Feb. 1961 to 7 May 1975
LEBANON – 25 Aug. 1982 to 26 Feb. 1984
GRENADA – 23 Oct. 1983 to 21 Nov. 1983
PANAMA – 20 Dec. 1989 to 31 Jan. 1990
PERSIAN GULF – 2 Aug. 1990 to
SOMALIA – 17 Sept. 1992 to
BOSNIA – 21 Nov. 1995 to 01 Nov. 2007
KOSOVO – 24 Mar. 1999 to
OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM – 7 Oct. 2001 to
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM – 19 Mar. 2003 to 17 Feb. 2010
OPERATION NEW DAWN – 17 Feb. 2010 to
OPERATION JOINT ENDEAVOR, OPERATION JOINT GUARD, & OPERATION JOINT FORGE – Veterans who participated in one or more of the three successive operations in the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, aboard U.S. Naval vessels operating in the Adriatic Sea, or air spaces above those areas).
Veterans who served or have served in Kosovo either in its waters or airspace after March 24, 1999, and before a terminal date yet to be established.
GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM – Veterans who serve or have served in military expeditions to combat terrorism on or after September 11, 2001 and before a terminal date yet to be established.
Includes OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM & OPERATION NEW DAWN.
SEXUAL TRAUMA AND HARASSMENT COUNSELING – veterans of both sexes, all eras Vet Center services include individual readjustment counseling, referral for benefits assistance, group readjustment counseling, liaison with community agencies, marital and family counseling, substance abuse information and referral, job counseling and placement, sexual trauma counseling, and community education.
BEREAVEMENT COUNSELING – Bereavement counseling is offered to parents, siblings, spouses and children of Armed Forces personnel who die in the service to our country. Also eligible are family members of Reservists and National Guardsmen who die while on federally activated duty.
Readjustment counseling is a wide range of psycho social services offered to eligible veterans and their families in the effort to make a successful transition from military to civilian life. They include:
- Individual and group counseling for Veterans and their families
- Family counseling for military related issues
- Bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death
- Military sexual trauma counseling and referral
- Outreach and education including PDHRA, community events, etc.
- Substance abuse assessment and referral
- Employment assessment & referral
- VBA benefits explanation and referral
- Screening & referral for medical issues including TBI, depression, etc.
Does VA have readjustment counseling for family members?
Family members of combat veterans have been eligible for Vet Center readjustment counseling services for military related issues since 1979.
Am I eligible for Vet Center readjustment counseling?
If you, or a family member, served in any combat zone and received a military campaign ribbon (Vietnam, Southwest Asia, OEF, OIF, etc.) than your family is eligible for Vet Center services.
Where is counseling offered?
VA’s readjustment counseling is provided at community-based Vet Centers located near veterans and their families. All Vet Center services are prepaid through military service. Contact your nearest Vet Center through information provided in the Vet Center Directory or listings in your local blue pages. Vet Center staff are available toll free during normal business hours at 1-800-905-4675 (Eastern) and 1-866-496-8838 (Pacific).
What is Bereavement Counseling?
Bereavement counseling is assistance and support to people with emotional and psychological stress after the death of a loved one. Bereavement counseling includes a broad range of transition services, including outreach, counseling, and referral services to family members.
Does VA Have Bereavement Counseling for Surviving Family Members?
The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) offers bereavement counseling to parents, spouses and children of Armed Forces personnel who died in the service of their country. Also eligible are family members of reservists and National Guardsmen who die while on duty.
Where Is Counseling Offered?
VA’s bereavement counseling is provided at community-based Vet Centers located near the families. There is no cost for VA bereavement counseling.
How Can You Obtain These Services?
Services are obtained by contacting Readjustment Counseling Service at 202-461-6530 or via electronic mail at email@example.com both of which are specific to this specialized service. RCS staff will assist families in contacting the nearest Vet Center. Often counseling can be made available in the family’s home or where the family feels most comfortable.
Military Sexual Trauma Counseling
What is military sexual trauma counseling?
Military sexual trauma counseling may include individual or group counseling, marital and family counseling, referral for benefits assistance, liaison with community agencies or substance abuse information and referral to help you deal with the emotions of military sexual trauma and regain confidence in your everyday life.
Am I eligible for military sexual trauma counseling?
Any veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service.
Where are services available?
Medical services are available at your local VA Medical Center and can be accessed by contacting the Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator (or Women Veterans Program Manager). Assessment and referral for sexual trauma counseling are available at all Vet Centers. On site counseling is available at selected Vet Centers across the country.
Vet Center National Directory:
If you have any questions about this topic or any other topic regarding veterans benefits please feel free to contact us at Ask VetsFirst. Ask VetsFirst is a free support service for veterans and their family members. You can find Knowledge Books on a wide range of veterans issues and topics. You can also submit a request and have one of our counselors answer your questions.
Please feel free to browse our extensive VetsFirst Knowledge Books for answers to your questions and if you are unable to find an answer you can submit your question directly to a VetsFirst counselor. Click here to Ask VetsFirst.