FamilyOfaVet - Real world info about PTSD, TBI, & life after combat
FamilyOfaVet - Real World info about PTSD, TBI, & life after combat.

Vet Centers

For many of us, experiencing PTSD or some other combat-related mental health issue can
be overwhelming.  Getting into the VA system can be daunting - appointments in some
systems take forever - some veterans aren't willing to deal with the hassle.  Unfortunately,
some resources aren't within a possible driving distance for many.  However, if you are
close enough to get to a VA Vet Center and you (or your Veteran) are struggling with
adjusting to life after combat, they are a
wonderful resource and for many the perfect

There are 232 Vet Centers in the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin
hassle) and offer a team of people devoted to helping Veterans deal with the mental "after
shocks" of war.

Most Vet Centers offer individual counseling, family counseling, group therapy, and classes
on things like Anger Management, Communication Skills, Good Sleep Habits, etc.

This service is
free to any Veteran who served in any combat zone.

Typically, "enrollment" is as easy as going to your local Vet Center, filling out an intake
sheet (one page, short & sweet), and scheduling an appointment.  Many of the Centers
have OIF/OEF Outreach Coordinators (many of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan) that
will then help you figure out which counselor you'd like to see, what classes might help, etc.

If your Veteran is nervous or reluctant to go, you might want to try the following.  It worked
for our family...

I called and talked to the receptionist.  I openly explained that I was having a difficult time
getting my husband to go in and what his reasons were for not wanting to go.  She helped
me figure out the best person for him to see, the best time of day for us to come (when
things were the least busy), etc. She also told me who in the office had served in the
military and what combat experience they had.

I then went to my husband with that information.  Explained to him that the OIF/OEF
Outreach Coordinator had served in Iraq and that we could just go meet with him.  If he still
didn't feel comfortable, we could leave.  But, the whole process would be short and sweet
and would at least give us some "intel" on the resources available.

Needless to say, that initial meeting went well, and we've now used our local Vet Center for
individual counseling for my husband and for family counseling.  The staff is great and it
has become a comfortable, safe place for our family to learn to navigate PTSD and TBI.

My only "gripe" with the Vet Centers is that individual counseling is only guaranteed to
Veterans... not always to loved ones.  Availability of individual counseling for loved ones
depends on what is available at your local Vet Center.  I hope this will change in the future.  
Making counseling and individual support services available at every Vet Center to those
who are caring for our nation's mentally wounded warriors would go a long way toward
Secondary PTSD.

To find about more about the VA Vet Center program or to find your local center,

This article was written by Brannan Vines, the proud wife of an OIF veteran and founder of  To contact Brannan, you can reach her by e-mail (brannan -at-
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