Vet Centers as a mental health solution
Dear American Legion Family members and friends,
Are you aware of the critical services provided by Vet Centers?
Eligible veterans and their families receive vital counseling and readjustment services from Vet Centers. Oftentimes, these veterans live in rural areas far from a VA medical facility.
In fact, Vet Centers also have mobile units. These make it possible to offer services even closer to where veterans live as well as dispatching the mobile unites to certain areas where the need is the greatest.
Currently there are more than 300 Vet Centers but that number will be increasing this spring, allowing even more veterans and their family members to be served. A recent American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast episode welcomed Army National Guard veteran Mike Fisher who is now the chief readjustment counseling officer for the organization. He covered a lot of ground — similar to Vet Centers — taking about their services, eligibility criteria, expansion and more.
He also sees the value in working with American Legion posts to deliver these services in rural areas.
“We send out staff to provide services in (outlying) communities,” he said. “It could be borrowing space from a local American Legion location where we have a confidential counseling space where we provide services for that community.”
The American Legion is a strong supporter of Vet Centers. Several years ago, we supported the Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act.
Starting in 2022, the act expanded eligibility for readjustment counseling and related mental health services through Vet Centers to certain members of the Coast Guard, National Guard and reserves.
While we applaud VA for its strategic growth of Vet Centers, there also is room for more advancements. Notably, as a way to combat the rate of veterans who die by suicide.
That is why The American Legion is calling on Congress to support the funding, implementation and continued expansion of VA and community-based mental health services through Vet Centers.
Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola