In the Know – Department of Veterans Affairs – Vet Centers

By Patricia L Johnson

Are you a combat Veteran? Did you serve in a combat zone? Are you a family member of a Veteran that served in a combat zone? Do you need readjustment counseling?

Help is available to both the Veterans and family members and there is no fee for services rendered.

CLICK TO FIND A VET CENTER NEAR YOU  Insert your zip code in the box provided and click “go”


The Vietnam War technically began February 28, 1961 and did not end until May 7, 1975. Heroes that served our country during that period of time hit a brick wall upon their return to the states. The majority of citizens in this country did not want to be in an ‘endless’ war and in many instances took out their discontent on our returning Veterans.

Many of these Veterans were suffering from various degrees of PTSD when they left Vietnam and upon their return to the U.S. were greeted by citizens that did their best to make them feel unwelcome. The same was true in the job market, if you wanted a job after returning from Vietnam, it would be wise to leave your Vietnam service off your resume.

The one place where they should have been able to feel safe and secure while receiving the assistance they were desperate for, Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, basically cast them aside by giving them a bottle of sleeping pills, a pat on the back and a diagnosis of Schizophrenia. The American Psychiatric Association had not yet included PTSD in the DSM [The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] therefore treating physicians did not fully recognize the severity of their symptoms.

About this same time there were other things going on in this country, plane crashes, train crashes, accidents, natural disasters, etc. More and more victims were complaining of symptoms similar to those of Vietnam Veterans and by 1980 the American Psychiatric Association finally added a diagnosis of PTSD to the DSM.

Since the majority of individuals experiencing PTSD symptoms were treated at Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, Veterans Affairs became acutely aware of the need for readjustment counseling for Veterans and in 1979 Congress established “The Vet Center Program” for Vietnam Veterans. In 1991 Congress extended eligibility to Veterans that served in Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia and Kosovo/Bosnia. WWII and Korean combat Veterans were included in 1996, and in 2003 Veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom were added to the coverage. It is important to note that from the beginning Veterans Affairs recognized PTSD as a ‘family’ disorder and extended readjustment counseling to the families.

CLICK TO FIND A VET CENTER NEAR YOU  Insert your zip code in the box provided and click “go”

What Services are provided?

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.

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CLICK TO FIND A VET CENTER NEAR YOU  Insert your zip code in the box provided and click “go”

Who is considered eligible for services?

If you, or a family member, served in any combat zone and received a military campaign ribbon (Vietnam, Southwest Asia, OEF, OIF, etc.) then your family is eligible for Vet Center services.

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Locations and Dates of eligibility:

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 IRAQI FREEDOM – 19 Mar. 2003 to 17 Feb. 2010

OPERATION NEW DAWN – 17 Feb. 2010 to

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CLICK TO FIND A VET CENTER NEAR YOU  Insert your zip code in the box provided and click “go”

© 2013 Patricia L Johnson

This entry was posted in Health and wellness, Health, Uninsured, Iraq War, U.S. Military, War. Bookmark the permalink.

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