Readjustment counseling is provided at Vet Centers to help veterans resolve war-related psychological traumas and to help them achieve a successful postwar readjustment to civilian life. Vet Centers are located in local communities close to the veterans they serve. Assistance typically includes readjustment counseling, spouse/significant other counseling, alcohol/drug abuse counseling and referral, employment assistance, psychological services, benefits counseling referral and homeless veteran assistance. Counseling also is provided to all veterans who have experienced sexual trauma (sexual assault or harassment) while on active duty. In addition to counseling, the Vet Centers provide extensive community outreach and brokering of services for veterans. Eligible for counseling are veterans who served on active duty in a combat theater during WWII, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Era, the Gulf War, or the campaigns in Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and the global War on Terrorism. Vietnam Era veterans not in the war zone: August 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975, are eligible as long as they accessed care at a Vet Center prior to January 1, 2004. Most recently, the Vet Centers were authorized to provide bereavement counseling services to the families of those service members killed on active duty. One common readjustment problem is posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This refers to such symptoms as nightmares, intrusive recollections or memories, flashbacks, anxiety or sudden reactions after exposure to traumatic conditions. Readjustment difficulties may affect functioning in school, family or work. In areas distant from Vet Centers or VA medical facilities, combat veterans may obtain readjustment counseling from private sector professionals who are on contract with VA.
To locate a contract provider, contact the nearest Vet Center. Vet Centers are listed in the white pages, blue pages and on the web at www.va.gov/rcs.
VA has recently added 50 mobile vet centers to the Vet Center program to provide outreach and direct readjustment counseling at active-duty, reserves and National Guard activities, including post deployment health reassessments for returning combat service members. The vehicles will also be used to visit events typically staffed by local Vet Center staff, including homeless "stand downs," veteran community events, county fairs, and unit reunions at sites ranging from Native American reservations to colleges. At their discretion local managers may arrange with VA hospitals or clinics in the respective region to provide occasional support for health promotion activities such as health screenings. The normal counseling layout can be converted to support emergency medical missions, such as, hurricanes and other natural disasters.