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Readjustment Counseling Service. Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise. WWII European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal . WWII Asian Pacific Campaign Medal. WWII American Theater Campaign Medal. Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

WWII European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal

WWII Asian Pacific

Campaign Medal

WWII American Theater

Campaign Medal

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

WWII Victory Medal

Korea Service Medal

Vietnam Service Medal

SW Asia Service Medal

Kosovo Service Medal

Afghanistan Campaign Medal

Iraq Campaign Medal

GWOT Expeditionary Medal

USMC Combat Action Ribbon

USMC Expeditionary Medal

Navy Expeditionary Medal

Briefing for:

Advisory Committee on Women Veterans

October 28, 2009

Vet Center Program


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

Mission Statement

We are the people in VA who welcome home war Veterans with honor by providing readjustment counseling in a caring manner. Vet Centers understand and appreciate Veterans’ war experiences while assisting them and their family members toward a successful post-war adjustment in or near their community.

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

Services:

  • Readjustment counseling is a wide range of psycho-social services offered to eligible Veterans and their families to assist them in making a successful transition from military to civilian life.

  • Services offered at Vet Centers nationwide include:

    • Counseling for Veterans and their families

    • Marital and family counseling for military-related issues

    • Bereavement counseling

    • Military sexual trauma counseling and referral

    • Demobilization outreach and services

    • Substance abuse assessment and referral

    • Employment assessment and referral

    • Screening and referrals for Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) issues

    • Veterans community outreach and education

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

History:

Readjustment Counseling Service (RCS), also known as the Vet Center Program, was established in 1979 to provide readjustment counseling to combat Veterans in a community-based setting, easy for Veterans to access.

The Vet Center program was the first program in VA, or anywhere, to systematically address the psychological traumas of war in combat Veterans. RCS was established a full year before the definition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was published in the Third Edition of the American Psychological Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM III) in 1980.

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee broadly defined ‘the purpose of readjustment counseling provision is to make fully available – and to encourage and facilitate the full use of – the resources of the VA’s health-care system to those Vietnam-era Veterans who feel the need for counseling to help them in their readjustment to civilian life.’

United States Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Report 96-100 “Veterans’ Health Care Amendments of 1979”

The House Veterans Affairs Committee outlined ‘within the context of readjustment counseling, each Vet Center is tasked with three major functions: outreach, direct service delivery, and referral.’

United States House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Report 98-117 “Veterans’ Administration Health Programs Amendments of 1983”

Over the course of the last 30 years the eligibility for Vet Center services has expanded to include combat Veterans of all eras, Veterans sexually traumatized while on active duty, and families of service members killed on active duty.

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

  • Vet Centers are staffed by relatively small teams (3-6 staff members) composed of a mix of mental health professionals and counselors from other disciplines.

    • 53% of Vet Center direct counseling staff are combat theater Veterans, with an additional 20% that are non-combat Veterans.

    • 30% of all Vet Center staff are Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) combat Veterans.

    • 60% of Vet Center direct counseling staff are VHA qualified mental health professionals (Licensed Psychologists, Licensed Social Workers, and Nurses).

    • 42% of all Vet Center staff are women.

    • 10% of all Vet Center staff are women combat theater Veterans,

    • with an additional 8% that are non-combat Veterans.

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

Iraq Campaign Medal

Global War on Terrorism

Expeditionary Medal

Afghanistan Campaign Medal

In February 2004 the Under Secretary for Health authorized the Vet Center program to hire fifty 50 OEF/OIF Veterans to conduct outreach to their fellow combat Veterans. Due to the success of the initial 50 Outreach Specialists, an additional 50 positions were authorized by the Under Secretary for Health in April 2005. These positions are located in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

Elizabeth Lopez, El Paso Vet Center OEF/OIF Outreach Specialist

First Outreach Specialist Hired (May 16, 2004)

Iraq 2003 - Patriot Missile Crew Member - 11th Brigade, 552 Echo Bat.

Iraq 2005 - TMT Gunner - NMCB 22 (Sea Bee)

Global War on Terrorism

Expeditionary Medal

Afghanistan Campaign Medal

Iraq Campaign Medal

Iraq (2nd Tour) 2005

Vet Center Outreach Event 2006

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

Global War on Terrorism

Expeditionary Medal

Afghanistan Campaign Medal

Iraq Campaign Medal

Jamie Hamilton, Austin Vet Center OEF/OIF Outreach Specialist

OH-58 D Kiowa Warrior/UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter Mechanic/Crew Chief

Afghanistan 2006-2007

Iraq 2003-2004

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

384,622 OEF/OIF Veterans

Cumulative through 6/30/09

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

Vet Centers participate in the Post Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) process beginning with the pilot in November 2005.

Vet Center staff are on site at each event to facilitate referrals for readjustment counseling and provide outreach materials and education to separating service members and their families.

From November 2005 through July 31, 2009, Vet Centers have participated in 1,412 distinct PDHRA events and facilitated 23,045 Vet Center referrals.

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

On August 5, 2003, VA Secretary authorized Vet Centers to furnish bereavement counseling services to surviving parents, spouses, children and siblings of service members who have fallen while on active duty, to include federally activated Reserve and National Guard personnel.

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

Through August 2009, the Vet Centers have assisted the families of 1,656 fallen Service Members, 1,160 (70%) were in-theater casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Over 15,958 bereavement visits have been provided by Vet Center staff, many times in the family’s home. This is an average of 9.6 visits per family.

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

VET CENTERS

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

STAFFING

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

50 Mobile Vet Centers are being utilized to provide access to VA for returning Veterans via outreach to demobilization active military bases, National Guard, and Reserve locations nationally. The vehicles provide essential homeless Veteran services including participation in Stand Down events. The vehicles also support Vet Center services to rural areas geographically distant from VA services.

Initial MVC Demonstration for Congress, October 2008

Each Mobile Vet Center is equipped with a state of the art satellite communications package that includes fully encrypted tele-health equipment, access to all VA systems (Computerized Patient Record System, MyHealthEVet) and connectivity to emergency response systems.

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

Red River Flooding Deployment MAR/APR 2009 – Fargo, ND

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

RURAL OUTREACH

Vet Center outreach being conducted at the 87th Annual Greeley Stampede in Greeley, Colorado. The 2009 Rodeo was dedicated to OEF/OIF Veterans. Vet Center outreach was coordinated by the Cheyenne Vet Center OEF/OIF Outreach Specialist Larry Little, a retired USMC Sergeant Major and Veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan.

87th Annual Greeley Stampede

Greeley, Colorado

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

SPECAIL POPULATION OUTREACH

Vet Center outreach at annual AMPSURF event, Pismo Beach, California. More than two dozen injured and disabled Veterans took to the waves for a little physical and mental therapy with Operation Restoration IV at Pismo Beach. Disabled Veterans and wounded active-duty service members from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, spent several days experiencing the thrill and healing power of surfing. RCS sent Chris Lopez and Brock McNabb from Santa Cruz, both OIF Veterans, and Joe Costello, Team Leader and OEF Veteran, San Marcos Vet Center. Joe is an avid surfer and participated in the water with the Veterans as well as providing counseling in the off hours.

Operation Restoration IV

Pismo Beach, California

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

New Initiative

READJUSTMENT COUNSELING

FOR WOMEN VETERANS AND FAMILIES

Project Overview

  • Develop women Veteran and family focused services in existing and new sites in Vet Centers to promote state of the art holistic care. These would include leveraging new technologies to promote access, care, and case management of women Veterans and families. Hire more women providers (peer to peer) to provide services in a safe environment.

    • Develop a 24/7 call center for women Veterans with peer counselors

    • Develop a social networking program to facilitate rural services

    • Provide women combat/family services in each Vet Center

    • Develop new models to provide more comprehensive services such as employment, benefits, and some primary care (i.e., rural areas)

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

24/7Vet Center 1-800 Toll Free Telephone Number

Establishment of a national call in service where combat Veterans or family members can call at anytime to talk to another combat Veteran regarding any readjustment issues related to their military service. The person on the other side of the call is a Veteran who understands and values the military experience of serving in a combat zone, is trained as a Vet Center counselor, and has knowledge of VA and other resources that may assist the Veteran or the family in obtaining needed services.

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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Readjustment Counseling Service...

Celebrating 30 Years in Service to our Nations Veterans …Keeping the Promise

  • Services Provide in FY2008

  • 167,034 Veterans and families provided 1,112,819 visits

  • 67,334 (40%) of all Veterans receiving Vet Center services were not seen at any other VHA Facility

  • Within the total services listed above 14,517 Veteran families were provided 53,064 visits

POC: Alfonso Batres, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Readjustment Counseling Service, 15


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