Vet Center comes to Fort Hunter Liggett to provide outreach during CSTX
July 22, 2012
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. -- With hundreds of tactical vehicles swarming around during the two major exercises here in June and July, anothe kind of vehicle stood out from the crowd. The Mobile Vet Center is a specially outfitted recreational vehicle that the Department of Veterans Affairs uses to reach out to ensure every combat veteran gets the help they need. There are more than 325 Vet Centers and 50 Mobile Vet Centers located across the United States, said Mark Ho, a Mobile Vet Center Readjustment Counseling Technician from Corona, Calif.
"I was deployed back in 2003, and when I went to deploy we didn't have this type of training, so I think it's a good view of what they might experience out there," Ho said. "We provide with the readjustment counseling if they need it, but we are also a link to other benefits. While they are out here, (all service members) are free to use our satellite telephones, internet telephones, fax machine capabilities, laptops. We also play movies."
Ho was with the Mobile Vet Center at Fort Hunter Liggett's Base Camp Milpitas for a few days during Combat Support Training Exercise 91 to provide counseling and morale for combat veterans.
"Mobile Vet Centers were designed to go out to rural areas and provide VA services to veterans who are on (forward operating bases for) training or who don't want to be in the city area," he said. "A lot of veterans that get out want to go to outlying areas and don't want to be around populations so we're there to help them out."
Ho said their main focus is combat veterans because that is what their funding supports and they are tracked and funded by the amount of veterans they help serve.
If you would like more information on the Vet Center or the Mobile Vet Center programs and their locations, visit www.vetcenter.va.gov or the 24-hour hotline at 1-877-WAR VETS (1-877-927-8387).
"It's a hotline but they can call if they have any questions about local vet centers or other questions about their benefits," said Ho. "It is like an emergency hotline, like for suicidal or negative thoughts. (The operators are) counselors and they are also highly trained on all of the benefits."
Ho, a former Marine who deployed to Iraq in 2003, said the Vet Centers' staff are primarily veterans.
"It's good training because they're going to be away from their families and they should get used to this environment first," he said. "Thank you to the service members - and feel free to ask us any questions you may have."