In 1979 Congress established a provision for readjustment counseling by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Having seen the mental toll the conflict in Vietnam had on returning warfighters, centers were opened to provide readjustment counseling for veterans. 40 years later, over 300 such Vet Centers now span the United States and its territories.
In commemoration of that landmark anniversary, the Jacksonville Vet Center, located at 110-A Branchwood Drive in Jacksonville, held an open house event for veterans. The event served to demonstrate the counseling services and groups available to veterans in the Jacksonville area.
“A lot of the people who came through are ones we’re used to working with,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Paul Siverson, veterans outreach program specialist for the Jacksonville Vet Center. “The idea to have an open house was to help people who weren’t as familiar get some face time. We wanted to let them meet the clinicians and counselors to see what resources are available.”
Siverson explained how the Jacksonville Vet Center came into existence in 2010 due to changes in VA policies regarding Vet Centers.
“The reason we opened here is because they opened Vet Centers to active duty service members,” Siverson said. “Before they changed that policy veterans had to drive all the way to Fayetteville or Greenville.”
The event specifically showcased art made by the Vet Center’s art group as well as a live performance by participants in the center’s Guitar for Vets group. Roughly 75 people were in attendance and refreshments were provided by the center.
Other services offered by the Jacksonville Vet Center include individual counseling, group counseling, PTSD counseling, marital counseling, military sexual trauma counseling, community networking and many others. All services are free of charge or fees.
For more information on Vet Centers visit vetcenter.va.gov.
The Jacksonville Vet Center can be reached at 910-577-1100.