Oct 23, VA Expands Mental Health Outreach: VA To Deploy 50 New Mobile Counseling Centers Across America

Department of Veterans Affairs

50 Motor Coaches to Bring Services Closer to Veterans

October 22, 2008, Washington, DC – The first of a fleet of 50 new mobile counseling centers for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Vet Center program was put into service today with the remainder scheduled to be activated over the next three months.

“Our widespread distribution of this fleet from coast to coast marks a new chapter in VA’s innovation to reach rural and underserved veterans with high-quality readjustment counseling,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake.

Each vehicle will be assigned to one of VA’s existing Vet Centers, enabling the center to improve access to counseling by bringing services closer to veterans. 

The 38-foot motor coaches, which have spaces for confidential counseling, will carry Vet Center counselors and outreach workers to events and activities to reach veterans in broad geographic areas, supplementing VA’s 232 current Vet Centers, which are scheduled to increase to 271 facilities by the end of 2009.

Vet Centers, operated by VA’s Readjustment Counseling Service, provide non-medical readjustment counseling in easily accessible, consumer-oriented facilities, addressing the social and economic dimensions of post-war needs.  This includes psychological counseling for traumatic military-related experiences and family counseling when needed for the veteran’s readjustment.

The team leader at each Vet Center will develop an outreach plan for use of the vehicle within that region, not being limited to the traditional catchment area of a particular Vet Center. 

These vehicles will be used to provide outreach and direct readjustment counseling at active-duty, reserve and National Guard activities, including post-deployment health reassessments for returning combat service members.

The vehicles will also be used to visit events typically staffed by local Vet Center staff, including homeless “stand downs,” veteran community events, county fairs, and unit reunions at sites ranging from Native American reservations to colleges.

While most of their use will be in Vet Centers’ delivery of readjustment counseling services, the local manager may arrange with VA hospitals or clinics in the region to provide occasional support for health promotion activities such as health screenings.

The normal counseling layout can be converted to support emergency medical missions, such as hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The 50 vehicles are being manufactured for VA by Farber Specialty Vehicles of Columbus, Ohio.

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Home Bases of Planned Vet Center Vehicles

Alabama: Birmingham

Arizona: Chinle and Prescott

Arkansas: Fayetteville

California: Corona, Fresno, Santa Cruz, and Eureka

Colorado: Colorado Springs

Florida: Pensacola

Georgia: Savannah and Macon

Idaho: Boise

Illinois: Springfield

Kansas: Wichita

Kentucky: Lexington

Louisiana: New Orleans

Maine: Caribou and Lewiston

Massachusetts: Springfield

Michigan: Escanaba

Minnesota: St. Paul

Montana: Missoula and Billings

Nebraska: Lincoln

New Mexico: Sante Fe and Las Cruces

New York: Watertown

North Carolina: Greenville

North Dakota: Minot and Fargo

Ohio: Dayton

Oregon: Eugene

Pennsylvania: Erie and Scranton 

South Carolina: Columbia

South Dakota: Rapid City

Tennessee: Johnson City and Memphis

Texas: Amarillo, Midland, and San Antonio 

Utah: Salt Lake

Vermont: White River Junction

Virginia: Richmond

Washington: Spokane and Tacoma

West Virginia: Morgantown and Beckley

Wyoming: Casper

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