Aberdeen center counsels combat veterans
(From left) Army Veterans John Shirley, Tom Walsh, Mike Boileau stand with Army Veteran and Counselor Chris Davis, Army Veteran James Kimble and Social Worker Tracey Waite in front of the Aberdeen Outstation. The Aberdeen Outstation provides free counseling services to combat veterans and their Families and is part of the Elkton Vet Center.

AERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - An outreach center in the City of Aberdeen provides free and confidential counseling services to veterans who have served in combat and their Family members. This "AberdeenOutstation" is part of the Elkton Vet Center.

The Vet Center program was established by Congress in 1979 out of recognition that a significant number of Vietnam-era veterans felt that their needs had not been met in Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers. Vet Centers are community-based and part of the VA. Soldiers who experienced sexual trauma while serving in the military are also eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service. There are more than 300 Vet Centers in the nation.

Tracey Waite, a licensed, clinical social worker from the Aberdeen Outstation, said that Vet Centers provide therapeutic counseling and referral services to facilitate a successful readjustment to civilian life. Services include: individual, group, marital and family therapy, job counseling, referrals for benefits assistance and bereavement counseling.

Waite recommends that veterans seek help sooner rather than later, as some conditions like depression and post traumatic stress disorder can seriously affect many aspects of a person's life.

"Some think PTSD is just part of the price you pay if you go to war," she said. "Some think that because they didn't pay the ultimate sacrifice they don't deserve the attention. We are here to tell them their lives can get better."

Marine veteran Marty Kuser said meeting other veterans who have gone through similar experiences helped him realize he is not alone.

"I am lost if I don't come here," he said. "The counselors do a wonderful job. Coming here has been one of the greatest experiences of my life."

Army veteran John Shirley said he also benefits from the group therapy sessions.

"The group therapy gives us a chance to come together for a purpose," Shirley said. "It is about vets helping vets."

Waite said eligible veterans need to bring their Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214) to their first appointment.

For more information on eligibility, visit http://www.vetcenter.va.gov/Eligibility.asp.

For more information or to set up an appointment call 410-272-6771, or email tracey.waite@va.gov.

The Aberdeen Outstation is located at 223 W. Bel Air Avenue in Aberdeen. The Elkton Vet Center is located at 103 Chesapeake Blvd. Suite A in Elkton. For information about the Elkton Vet Center, call 410-392-4485 or visit www.vetcenter.va.gov.

An additional resource for veterans is the Combat Call Center at 1-877-WAR-VETS (927-8387), which operates 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week. This confidential call center is a place where combat veterans and their Families can talk about their military experience or any other readjustment issues. The staff is comprised of combat veterans from several eras as well as Family members of combat veterans.

Page last updated Wed December 11th, 2013 at 00:00