History of the Vet Center Program
The Vet Center Program was established by Congress in 1979 in recognition that significant numbers of Vietnam veterans were experiencing readjustment problems. Vet Centers were established as community based counseling arms of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Madison Vet Center opened its doors in November of 1981. It is located at 706 Williamson Street. In 1991, following the Persian Gulf War, Congress extended eligibility to veterans who served during other periods of armed conflict post Vietnam. Those periods include Lebanon, Granada, Panama and the Persian Gulf. In 1996, Congress extended eligibility to veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War and Somalia. In addition, veterans who were victims of sexual harassment or trauma while in the military are eligible for services at the Vet Center.
War Zone Veterans, all eras including:
- World War II, December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
- Korean War, June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
- Vietnam War, February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975
- Vietnam Era veterans not in the War Zone, August 8, 1964 to May 7, 1975 (Eligible until January 1, 2004)
- Lebanon, August 25, 1982 to February 26, 1984
- Granada, October 23, 1983 to November 21, 1983
- Panama, December 20, 1989 to January 31, 1990
- Gulf War, August 2, 1990 to
- Somalia, September 17, 1992 to
- Operation Joint Endeavor, Operation Joint Guard, Operation Joint Forge – Vet Center eligibility has been extended to veterans who participated in one or more of three successive operations in the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, aboard U.S. Naval vessels operating in the Adriatic Sea, or air spaces above those areas)
- Global War on Terrorism
- Sexual Trauma and Harassment Counseling, Veterans of both sexes and all eras
Currently, there are over 200 Vet Centers nationwide whose mission is to provide a broad range of counseling, outreach and referral services to assist veterans and family members to overcome the readjustment problems associated with war and personal trauma.
- Individual readjustment counseling
- Group readjustment counseling
- Marital and family counseling
- Referral for benefits assistance
- Liaison with community agencies
- Job counseling and placement
- Substance abuse information and referral
- Community education
NOTE: All services are free to eligible veterans and their families.
Eligible veterans who reside outside a fifty mile radius from a Vet Center may be authorized to receive counseling from a private agency. Details are available by contacting the Vet Center.
Counselors come from many clinical disciplines such as psychology, social work, psychiatry and substance abuse, but also include special trauma. Sixty percent of the counselors in the program are combat veterans themselves.
Treatment records are confidential and secured in locked files. Records are released only with the veteran’s authorization.