|This website is dedicated to the
raising of awareness of the Plight
of our Veterans trying to get help
through the VA system! And to
educate the American Public to
the existence of the Vet Center
program with the intent of
procuring additional funding to
Save Our Veterans!!!
|to send an e-mail to your Senator,
your Representative The President,
and to sign the petition!
|The Vet Center program is a proven VA program that works!!! But they are
too small to be able to give the help these brave men and women need.
This is what the Vet Centers need:
1) More outreach people. People who can go to the veteran when they
come home! Who are trained to recognize PTSD can attend the Drill
weekends and homecoming events (if any) and talk to these men and
women, one on one. People to talk to the families, who are frequently first
to recognize problems with their loved one’s. People who can help the
Veteran get the help they need, one Veteran at a time if necessary!
2) More counselors that can actually do the counseling and provide the
help necessary to stop the progression and provide RECOVERY! It IS
possible, if caught early enough! Also, family counselors, and Vet Center
counselors to cover VA community medical clinics for all combat vets.
3) More and better staffed Vet Centers and Vet Center “Outstations” with
outreach people and counselors. This should include outstations near,
but not on, all major military bases and clusters of activated Reserve
units. And more Vet Center counselors to cover VA community medical
clinics and help all combat vets. This will allow many returning combat
vets to get help confidentially, and again, save lives.
4) The Vet Center program should be given the most credible voice in the
VA regarding the needs of these new veterans. All Resources necessary
to fulfill these needs must be given to the Vet Centers, or reassigned if
necessary from other VA sources.
This list of needs can only be met with additional funding! The ONLY
funding they have received allowed them fifty new positions for outreach,
less than one per state! This is but a drop in the bucket! They need more,
and the ability to spend it where it is needed the most. The VA system has
the Vet Centers as the proven source of helping veterans with PTSD!!
More Vet Centers are needed to save their lives.
It is THAT important! FUND THEM!!
YOU MADE IT HOME, NOW STAY HERE!
NO MORE DEATHS, NOT HERE, NOT NOW, NOT EVER!!!!
Senator Daniel K.
April 12, 2005
Just days after
|1) Jonelle Kop, Tavernier Fl - Please take care of those who
have given SO much for our freedom! Do the next RIGHT thing!
2) Angie Lucas, Tavernier, FL
3) Grace Dorsa,
4) Gerri Weisberg, Key Largo
6) Edward C Lynch USS Bristol (DD-857)
This is not the time to cast aside those returning
veterans like just so much useless trash.
Eldora Engebretson, WACVA
|CONTACT: Geoffrey Collver @ 202-225-9756
House Veterans' Committee Report Concludes
VA Counseling Center Services At-Risk
Survey shows growing demand, under staffing, curtailed or deferred services
Washington, D.C. - Over the past year, many Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Readjustment Counseling Service Centers
(Vet Centers) have been forced to ration services, create waiting lists and limit individual counseling sessions due to
significant increases in demand for services from returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, according to a House
Committee on Veterans' Affairs Democratic staff report released today.
House Veterans' Affairs Health Subcommittee Ranking Member, Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D-ME) requested Democratic
committee staff prepare the report on whether Vet Centers have experienced an increase in workload and have the capacity
to meet any increases in demand for readjustment counseling and mental health services. Staff reviewed VA data and
interviewed supervisors at 60 Vet Centers nationwide to assess capacity.
The report found that in nine months, from October 2005 through June 2006, the number of returning veterans from Iraq and
Afghanistan who have turned to Vet Centers for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) services and readjustment concerns
has doubled from 4,467 to 9,103 veterans.
"It's clear from the report that Vet Center capacity has not kept pace with demand for services, and the Administration has
failed to properly plan and prepare for the mental health needs of returning veterans and their families," said Michaud. "The
Vet Centers' staff are dedicated and deeply committed to meeting the needs of veterans and their families, but without
additional resources, even dedicated staff has limits," said Michaud. "Contrary to the Administration rhetoric of supporting
family counseling to help keep veterans' families strong and resilient, 20 percent of the Vet Centers reported that they have no, or
limited, capacity to provide family counseling or therapy. Veterans don't live in a vacuum. They, and their families, need help in
facing PTSD symptoms that can shatter all their lives," Michaud continued.
According to the report, the increase in Vet Center workload, without commensurate increase in counseling staffing, has
affected access to quality readjustment counseling for veterans. Specifically, the report finds:
· 100 percent of Vet Centers surveyed have seen a significant increase in outreach and services to OIF/OEF veterans;
· For half of the Vet Centers, this increase has affected their ability to treat the existing client workload. Of these Vet
Centers, 40 percent have directed veterans for whom individualized therapy would be appropriate to group therapy.
Roughly, 27 percent have limited or plan to limit veterans' access to marriage or family therapy. Nearly 17 % of the
workload-affected Vet Centers have or plan to establish waiting lists;
· Of all the Vet Centers surveyed, one in four has taken or will take some action to manage their increasing workload,
including limiting services and establishing waiting lists; and,
· Thirty percent of the Vet Centers explicitly commented that they need more staff.
In addition to this report, the Government Accountability Office recently reported (GAO-06-1119T) that the Administration
failed to fund $300 million in resources which the Administration previously touted for veterans' mental health services in
2005 and 2006.
The GAO report can be reviewed here: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d061119t.pdf
Established in 1979, Vet Centers are unique community-based, veteran-focused storefronts that provide a host of
readjustment counseling services to assist veterans in successfully transitioning from military service to civilian life. There
are currently 207 Vet Centers located throughout the 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, and
A copy of the Democratic staff report has been transmitted to VA Secretary R. James Nicholson for his review and comment.
The report can be viewed here: http://veterans.house.gov/democratic/officialcorr/pdf/vetcenters.pdf
|October 20, 2006 update:
To the Sub Committee of Health, House Committee of Veterans Affairs:
Thank you SO much for keeping us in the loop of the work you are doing for our
Veterans. We hope that the powerful facts reported in your study along with the GAO
report that $300 million of the funds allocated by Congress for mental health has NOT
been spent and Col. Dr. Charles Hoge's statement that 39% of our soldiers have
mental health concerns, will finally make an impact in how the Vet Center program is
funded in the future! It is now extremely obvious that even WITH direct mandates by
Congress that the VA fund the treatment of PTSD, Secretary Nicholson refuses to do
We believe that the work you are doing is crucial in helping the Vet Center Program
save the life of many of our Veterans! You are absolutely correct in stating that the
dedication of the hard working Vet Center Staff can not meet the demand for
services by our Veterans without help! We support your work and are standing by to
help you in getting this funding in any way we can!
We call the Congress to take that $300 million dollars already allocated but not spent
money and give it directly to the Vet Center program! This will allow them to expand
their successful program back to their pre-war levels of service. Further, they will be
able to expand their program to meet the growing needs your study expounds upon,
such as hiring marital/family counselors, instantly addressing treatment and
outreach needs for all combat vets and families. Further, we ask that Congress
continues to directly mandate the Vet Center Program's funding as needed in the
years to come, to insure their ability to continue to provide these effective levels of
Please consider where our time and efforts will be the most effective in helping our
Veterans and the Vet Center Program. As always, our mission is to help Congress
recognize and fund the Vet Center program as it is the most successful, efficient and
cost effective program in existence to treat the needs of our Veterans. We look
forward to working with you in the future. Sincerely, Jonelle Kop, Chairwoman, Save
to send an e-mail to your Senator,
your Representative The
President and to sign the petition!
Please include your name, hometown, state
and we will do the rest!
House Committee of Veterans' Affairs
Number of returning veterans who receive an initial diagnosis of
PTSD is projected to double by October 2006
Washington D.C.-According to quarterly utilization data from the
Department of Veterans Affairs, the cumulative number of OIR and OED
veterans with an initial diagnosis of PTSD has climbed steadily in the
last for quarters. It has increased from 9,688 in May 2005, to 15,927 by
October 2005, to 20,638 by February 2006 and most recently 25,317 as
reported in May 2006 Link to full report
|December 29, 2006 update:
New Law authorized $180 Million for the Vet Center Program!
On December 26, 2006, President Bush signed Bill s.3421 into Law. This Bill authorizes
$180 Million to the Vet Center Program for the fiscal year 2007!!!!!
Over the last two years, we have e-mailing, called and have sent well over 3,000 faxes during our campaign for
additional funding for the Vet Center program. We have contacted every member of the U. S. Senate, the House of
Representatives as well as every major News Media and many other Supporting Organizations.
Our first major success was helping Senator Akaka’s Bill s.716 Vet Center Enhancement Act of 2005 get unanimous
support and approval of the Senate. On April 27, 2006, Mr Bradley sponsored Bill H.R. 5221, Vet Center Enhancement
Act of 2006. Since then, our major battle has been getting accurate numbers to counter the opinion and statements
made by the VA Secretary, Mr. Nicholson that additional funding was not needed and the House Committee of Veterans
Affairs defense of that opinion. I have had many conversations back in February with Aaron, Representative Ginny
Brown-Waits Staff Director discussing how to get accurate figures for the Committee. It was during the following
conversations with Linda Bennett, formally the Staff Director for the House Committee of Veterans Affairs Ranking
Member Lane Evans, currently the Staff Director for Congressman Michael Michaud, where we discussed calling the
Vet Centers themselves to get current and accurate numbers. This resulted in Mr. Michaud’s study of the capacity of
the Vet Center Program. It was this report that finally broke the stalemate and propelled Senator John Kerry’s
amendment to increase critical funding by $18 Million for the Vet Center program to pass the Senate. And most
importantly, it allowed the Vet Center expansion program and related funding to be
added to Bill s. 3421, which just passed both the House of Representatives and the
Senate and President Bush signed it into Law on December 26, 2006. This Bill
authorizes $180 Million to the Vet Center Program for the fiscal year 2007.
Even though this is a major win for our Veterans, it is not a part of the Budget until
both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees appropriate the funds. So we
are now gearing up our campaign to bring this Bill before every member of both
Committee's to insure that they understand just how critical this funding is. We will
do whatever we can to encourage Congress to fence these funds to the Vet Center
Program directly. Our new fax, e-mail and phone campaign starts today!!! Thank you
for your support.
SaveOurVets.com: a group of Veterans and their families that support the Vet Center
Program. We have the full support of the Iraq War Veterans Organization, the Woman’s
Army Corp Veterans Association (WACVA) and a membership of over 150 people. All
information concerning our drive to save this wonderful program is on our web site
|Feb 6, 2007
Well, they passed the law, but the Appropriations Committees have not funded it! So the Vet Centers
have yet to see a dime of the funds they so desperately need for outreach and counseling our Veterans
returning home! The direct consequences of this inaction is that we lost another Marine! Marine Jonathan
Schulze sought treatment from the Minneapolis VA Medical Center in December and after failing to receive
help sought care from the St. Cloud VA Medical Center. According to the veteran’s family, staff at the St.
Cloud VA Medical Center placed Mr. Schulze on a waiting list for treatment. Mr. Schulze later committed
suicide at the age of 25.
When will the VA accept responsibility and let the Vet Centers do their job?
|March 1, 2007 update
The Senate Committee for Veterans Affairs recommends full funding for
the Vet Center Program!
"Senate Committee of Veterans Affairs recommended funding for the FISCAL YEAR 2008
Vet Centers. As the Global War on Terrorism continues, the number of veterans seeking readjustment
counseling and related mental health services through Vet Centers will continue to grow. Experts predict that
as many as 30 percent of returning servicemembers may need some kind of mental health treatment – from
basic readjustment counseling to care for debilitating PTSD. A study published on March 1, 2006, in the
Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that 35 percent of Iraq veterans accessed mental
health care services during their first year at home. Despite an increase in the number of veterans coming to
Vet Centers, the budget for the program has remained relatively stagnant. We note that legislation to
authorize $180 million in funding for Vet Centers passed the full Senate last December (Public Law 109-461).
We recommend that Vet Centers receive a funding increase of $70 million above FY07 to meet that goal."
We hope that the House Committee and both appropriations committees follow suit! There is no time to loose!
|February 7, 2007
Major victory!!! VA Vet Centers Coming to 23 More Communities
February 7, 2007 - WASHINGTON -- The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) vet center program, which
provides readjustment counseling and outreach services to combat veterans, is expanding into 23 new
communities across the nation in the next two years, the Department announced today. These facilities are an
important resource for veterans returning from the Global War on Terror and their families. New Vet Centers
will be located in Montgomery, Ala.; Fayetteville, Ark.; Modesto, Calif.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Orlando, Fort
Myers, and Gainesville, Fla.; Macon, Ga.; Manhattan, Kan.; Baton Rouge, La.; Cape Cod, Mass.; Saginaw and
Iron Mountain, Mich.; Berlin, N.H.; Las Cruces, N.M.; Binghamton, Middletown, Nassau County and Watertown, N.
Y.; Toledo, Ohio; Du Bois, Penn.; Killeen, Texas; and Everett, Wash. During 2007, VA plans to open new
facilities in Grand Junction, Orlando, Cape Cod, Iron Mountain, Berlin and Watertown. The other new vet
centers are scheduled to open in 2008
By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY 4/20/07
WASHINGTON — The number of returning Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans visiting Department of Veterans
Affairs walk-in clinics has more than doubled since 2004, while the clinics' staff has increased by less than 10%,
agency records show.
The clinics, known as Vet Centers, are meant to make it easier for combat veterans to receive help. Last year,
21,681 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans visited the centers, up from 8,965 in 2004. The number of clinic staff members
rose from 992 to 1,063 during the same period, according to the VA records.
A VA survey of clinic team leaders that the agency provided to USA TODAY Thursday shows that 114 of the 209
Vet Centers need at least one extra psychologist or therapist to help with the influx of veterans. The VA is only
slated to add 61 new staff.
Al Batres, the national director of Vet Center operations, says he will fill those additional slots over time. In
addition, he says he has the budget to open 23 new centers across the country by September 2008, the end of the
next budget year. He says the new centers will help serve the growing number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
"My task is to try to direct the right kind of services at the right time to the right place," Batres said.
The VA has consistently underestimated the needs of many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, says Joe Davis, a
spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"The Vet Centers are on the front lines," Davis says. "Every one of the 200-plus Vet Centers are providing a
vital service, but our greatest concern is five years from now when more veterans and their families" enter the
The Vet Centers are small, storefront operations with a staff of four to five people each. The centers were
created in 1979 to help Vietnam War veterans readjust to society. Services include combat stress counseling,
marriage therapy, job assistance and medical referrals.
Five of the clinics in the VA survey said they have people waiting in line for service. An informal survey last
year by House Democratic staffers of 60 centers found that all reported significant increases in demand and about
10 reported using group therapy sessions, rather than individual counseling, to handle the increase. In the VA
survey, only two of the clinics said shortages led them to substitute group therapy for more appropriate individual
Among the findings in the VA survey:
• Twenty-six centers said it takes longer to help veterans because of the increased workload.
• Twenty-two centers reported they cannot provide family counseling when necessary.
• Fifty-four centers said more sexual trauma treatment is needed.
Batres has hired 100 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to help educate new veterans about services. Unlike clinic
visits, which involve veterans meeting individually with staff members, many outreach efforts involve staffers
speaking to groups of veterans.
Veterans of several wars use the centers, VA records show. In 2004, 125,737 veterans visited the centers or
were contacted through outreach efforts; that number rose to 228,612 in 2006.
Last year, the White House proposed cutting $47 million from the $3.3 billion budget for veterans' readjustment
benefits. Two congressional committees agreed, but the Republican-controlled Congress didn't pass a final
spending bill. This year, Congress passed a resolution that keeps spending at the 2006 levels.
|May 23, 2007
The VA has finally conceded to the demands of Congress and the needs of our Veterans!!!! On May 23, 2007, Mr.
Nicholson announced that they were adding an additional 100 councilors to the Vet Center Program!!! This is
another Major Victory in our fight for additional funding for this wonderful and vital program! This is in addition
to the promised 23 new Vet Centers and the 100 Veterans hired earlier for outreach!
|Senate Committee of Veterans Affairs March 1, 2007
Vet Centers. As the Global War on Terrorism continues, the number of veterans seeking readjustment counseling
and related mental health services through Vet Centers will continue to grow. Experts predict that as many as 30 percent
of returning servicemembers may need some kind of mental health treatment – from basic readjustment counseling to
care for debilitating PTSD. A study published on March 1, 2006, in the Journal of the American Medical Association,
reported that 35 percent of Iraq veterans accessed mental health care services during their first year at home. Despite
an increase in the number of veterans coming to Vet Centers, the budget for the program has remained
relatively stagnant. We note that legislation to authorize $180 million in funding for Vet Centers passed the full
Senate last December (Public Law 109-461).
We recommend that Vet Centers receive a funding increase of $70 million above FY07 to meet that goal.
|Legislators' Letter Calls For Better Vet Care (MNMTH)
Monmouth Daily Review Atlas <http://www.reviewatlas.com/articles/2007/05/02/news/news3.txt>,
Congressman Phil Hare, D-IL, is making good on his pledge to fight for better care and services for
veterans once they return home. Hare, a Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, and 43 of his
colleagues from both parties sent a letter to VA Secretary Jim Nicholson this week urging him to immediately
address the staffing crisis at our nation's VA walk-in clinics (commonly referred to as Vet Centers) and
requesting information about his proposed plans for action. While the number of returning Iraq and Afghanistan
combat veterans visiting Vet Centers has more than doubled since 2004, staffing has only increased by 10 percent.
"These staffing shortages unacceptably jeopardize the mental and physical health of both returning troops
and aging veterans at a time when more than one in four troops have acknowledged mental health issues,"
the letter reads.
"We cannot continue to care for our veterans on the cheap," Hare said. "When we fail to provide a standard of
care worthy of the sacrifices of our military veterans, what kind of message does that send to the brave men
and women currently fighting around the world?" "Not only do these shortages place the mental health and
well-being of veterans at risk, but they place a significant strain on an already overworked staff," the letter
continued. "This has resulted in the institution of waiting lists, further increasing the backlog at the VA." The
letter specifically asked Secretary Nicholson (1) what actions are planned to meet the staffing crisis at Vet
Centers; and (2) how much funding or other federal resources would be required to fully staff Vet Centers
over the next five years.