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VA Vet Centers Coming to 39 Communities

Peake: Provide Counseling for All Combat Veterans

WASHINGTON, July 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Combat veterans will receive readjustment counseling and other assistance in 39 additional communities across the country where the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will develop Vet Centers by fall 2009.

"Community-based Vet Centers -- already in all 50 states -- are a key component of VA's mental health program," said Dr. James B. Peake, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. "I'm pleased we can expand access to bring services closer to even more veterans, including screening and counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder."

The existing 232 centers conduct community outreach to offer counseling on employment, family issues and education to combat veterans and family members, as well as bereavement counseling for families of service members killed on active duty and counseling for veterans who were sexually harassed on active duty.

Vet Center services are available at no cost to veterans who experienced combat during any war era. They are staffed by small teams of counselors, outreach workers and other specialists, many of whom are combat veterans. The Vet Center program was established in 1979 by Congress, recognizing that many Vietnam veterans were still having readjustment problems.

The centers have hired 100 combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as outreach specialists, often placing them near military processing stations, to brief servicemen and women leaving the military about VA benefits.

VA's 2009 budget proposal seeks $20 million more than this year's budget for Vet Centers, to include operating and leasing space for the new centers. Eighteen of the counties that will have new centers already have one or more; the other 21 do not.

A list of the new Vet Center locations is below.

Communities Receiving New VA Vet Centers

Alabama - Madison

Arizona - Maricopa

California - Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego

Connecticut - Fairfield

Florida - Broward, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Volusia

Georgia - Cobb

Illinois - Cook, DuPage

Maryland - Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Prince George's

Michigan - Macomb, Oakland

Minnesota - Hennepin

Missouri - Greene

North Carolina - Onslow

New Jersey - Ocean

Nevada - Clark

Oklahoma - Comanche

Pennsylvania - Bucks, Montgomery

Texas - Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant

Virginia - Virginia Beach

Washington - King

Wisconsin -- Brown

SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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