The Vet Center Program was established by Congress in 1979 out of the recognition that a significant number of Vietnam era vets were still experiencing readjustment problems. Vet Center Programs are community based and part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In April 1991, in response to the Persian Gulf War, Congress extended the eligibility to veterans who served during other periods of armed hostilities after the Vietnam era. Those other periods are identified as Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, and Kosovo/Bosnia.
In October 1996, Congress extended the eligibility to include WWII and Korean Combat Veterans. The goal of the Vet Center program is to provide a broad range of counseling, outreach, and referral services to eligible veterans in order to help them make a satisfying post-war readjustment to civilian life. On April 1, 2003 the Secretary of Veterans Affairs extended eligibility for Vet Center Program services to veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and on June 25, 2003 Vet Center eligibility was extended to veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and subsequent operations within the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).
The family members of all veterans listed above are eligible for Vet Center services as well. On August 5, 2003 VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi authorized Vet Centers to furnish bereavement counseling services to surviving parents, spouses, children and siblings of service members who die of any cause while on active duty, to include federally activated Reserve and National Guard personnel.
Any Veterans and active duty Service members, to include members of the National Guard and Reserve components, who:
Have served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility*
Experienced a military sexual trauma;
Provided direct emergent medical care or mortuary services, while serving on active military duty, to the casualties of war, or;
Served as a member of an unmanned aerial vehicle crew that provided direct support to operations in a combat zone or area of hostility.
Vietnam Era veterans who have accessed care at a Vet Center prior to January 1, 2004
Vet Center services are also provided to family members of Veterans and Service members for military related issues when it is found aid in the readjustment of those that have served. This includes bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death.
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