The Department of Veterans Affairs deployed 20 additional Mobile Vet Centers from the production facility of Farber Specialty Vehicles to increase access to readjustment counseling services for veterans and their families in rural and underserved communities across the country.
“Mobile Vet Centers allow VA to bring the many services our Vet Centers offer Veterans to all communities, wherever they are needed,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Robert A. Petzel. “VA is committed to expanding access to VA health care and benefits for Veterans and their families, and these 20 new vehicles demonstrate that continued commitment.”
In an event attended by Petzel, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, representatives of the Ohio congressional delegation, and veterans service organizations, VA launched the 20 new vehicles to their destinations ranging across the continental United States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
These customized vehicles, which are equipped with confidential counseling space and a state of the art communication package, travel to communities to extend VA’s reach to veterans, service members and their families, especially those living in rural or remote communities. The vehicles also serve as part of the VA emergency response program.
The 20 new, American-made vehicles will expand the existing fleet of 50 Mobile Vet Centers already in service providing outreach and counseling services. The 50 Mobile Vet Centers were also manufactured by Farber Specialty Vehicles. In fiscal year 2011, Mobile Vet Centers participated in more than 3,600 federal, state and locally sponsored veteran-related events. The VA contract for the 20 Mobile Vet Centers totals $3.1 million.
During the announcement event, Petzel also announced that Farber Specialty Vehicles recently won a competitive bid to produce 230 emergency shuttle vehicles for VA over the next five years. The shuttles will provide routine transportation for veteran patients in and around various metro areas during normal operations, but convert to mobile clinics that will facilitate the evacuation of patients and their care teams during disasters and emergencies. The VA contract for the 230 emergency shuttles totals $53.5 million.
VA has 300 Vet Centers serving communities across the country, offering individual and group counseling for veterans and their families, family counseling for military related issues, bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death, military sexual trauma counseling and referral, outreach and education, substance abuse assessment and referral, employment assessment and referral, VA benefits explanation and referral, and screening and referral for medical issues including traumatic brain injury and depression.
More than 190,000 veterans and families made over 1.3 million visits to VA Vet Centers in fiscal year 2011.
To find out more about Vet Center services or find a Vet Center in your area, go to www.vetcenter.va.gov.
The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:
American Legion Post 108, second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.
Veterans for Veterans, every Tuesday at 10 am, 164 N. Pagosa Blvd. (Buffalo Inn).
For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590 and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs and for filing in the VSO office.