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VA Has Added 20 New Vet Centers
Date:2/27/2008

Peake: Expansion Comes a Year Early to Help Combat Vets

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake today said an expansion by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of its Vet Centers, which provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to returning combat veterans, is well ahead of schedule.

In February 2007, VA announced it would open 23 new centers during the next two years. Fifteen of those centers are already operational, and five others are seeing patients in temporary facilities while finalizing their leases. The other three facilities will begin operations later this year.

"Building on our past successes, 2008 will see a permanent increase in the number of Vet Centers, as we bring the remaining facilities on line to reach a record 232 Vet Centers by the end of the year," Peake said.

"To support this expansion and augment the staff at 61 existing Vet Centers, this year we are channeling a 44 percent increase in funding to the Readjustment Counseling Service, which operates the Vet Centers -- nearly $50 million more than last year's budget," he added.

The community-based Vet Centers are a key component of VA's mental health program, providing veterans with mental health screening and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) counseling, along with help for family members dealing with bereavement and loved ones with PTSD.

The 15 new Vet Centers that are open in permanent locations are in Binghamton, N.Y.; Middletown, N.Y.; Watertown, N.Y.; Hyannis, Conn.; DuBois, Pa.; Gainesville, Fla.; Melbourne, Fla.; Macon, Ga.; Manhattan, Kansas; Escanaba, Mich.; Saginaw, Mich.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Baton Rouge, La.; Killeen, Texas; and Las Cruces, N.M.

Five additional Vet Centers are providing services in temporary space while they finalize their leases: They are in Toledo, Ohio; Ft. Myers, Fla.; Montgomery, Ala.; Everett, Wash.; and Modesto,
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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