Connection, camaraderie and community
Pedro A. Villarreal explains the counseling services offered by the Vet Center during the Veterans Crisis Command Center at American Legion Post 439 in La Feria, Texas, on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Photo by Lucas Carter.

Connection, camaraderie and community

Established in 1979, Vet Centers play a critical role in creating support structures for veterans and active duty servicemembers to promote a successful transition. All veterans and active duty servicemembers are encouraged to seek care through Vet Centers. Additionally, family members struggling with military-related issues when they aid in the readjustment of a veteran are encouraged to seek the services these centers provide. 

These community-based counseling centers provide a range of social and mental health services, including professional readjustment counseling, to eligible veterans, active duty servicemembers, including National Guard and Reserve components, as well as their families. These services help provide a servicemember with the tools to make a successful transition from military to civilian life or after a traumatic event experienced in the military, including combat-related trauma and military sexual trauma.

In October 2020, the Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act was signed into law, extending VA counseling services to a broader pool of veterans. They are now eligible to take advantage of the available counseling resources.

Veterans, current active duty personnel and members of the National Guard and Reserve components, are eligible if any of the following applies:

• Have served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility.

• Experienced a military sexual trauma (regardless of gender or service era).

• Provided mortuary services or direct emergent medical care to treat the casualties of war while serving on active military duty.

• Performed as a member of an unmanned aerial vehicle crew that provided direct support to operations in a combat theater or area of hostility.

• Accessed care at a Vet Center prior to Jan. 2, 2013, as a Vietnam-era veteran.

• Served on active military duty in response to a national emergency or major disaster declared by the president, or under orders of the governor or chief executive of a state in response to a disaster or civil disorder in that state.

• Are a current or former member of the Coast Guard who participated in a drug interdiction operation, regardless of the location.

In fiscal year 2020, the mobile Vet Centers were deployed 20 times. Eleven of those supported COVID-19 outreach and support, six were emergency management responses and three provided additional support at VA Medical Centers. These mobile deployments helped serve nearly 1,000 veterans, 100 servicemembers, 272 family members and 3,662 civilians.

To find a Vet Center visit or call the Vet Center at 877-WAR-VETS (927-8387).