If you are are having a hard time adapting to civilian life after coming home from a tour of duty, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) vet centers may be a great resource to explore treatment options.
Established by Congress in 1979 as a way to help the large number of Vietnam veterans experiencing readjustment problems, vet centers provide veterans and their families with an assortment of mental health services.
These mental health services include:
- Individual and group counseling
- Family counseling for military-related issues
- Bereavement counseling for family members who lost a service member in active duty
- Military sexual trauma counseling
- Substance abuse assessments and treatment referrals
- Employment assessments and referrals
- Veteran Benefits Administration explanation and referral
- Screening and referrals for medical issues such as TBI, PTSD and depression
In order to use these great services, you or a family member must have served in a combat zone and received a military campaign ribbon.
There are more than 300 vet centers located all across the country. The VA also has mobile vet centers to assist veterans living in rural areas of the country, where community-based centers aren’t as accessible. You can find the center nearest to you at http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter_flsh.asp.
If you’re interested in accessing vet center services, call your local location and make an appointment. While most vet centers keep traditional business hours, they do offer appointments outside these hours upon request.
Veterans can also call 1-877-WAR-VETS any time they want to talk about their military experience or any other issues they have when it comes to readjusting to civilian life.
If you’re having difficulty accessing vet center services, which isn’t uncommon, try finding a veterans advocate. They will be able to help you access these services, or point you in the direction of other organizations who may also be able to help.
If you’re interested in learning more about some of the mental health resources available to veterans, check out our article on the VA Benefits Available for Those Suffering from PTSD.