Readjustment Counseling Service Vet Center Report
As requested in House Report 110-775, to accompany H.R. 6599, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill, fiscal year 2009, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG), Office of Healthcare Inspection conducted a review of the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA’s) Vet Center Program. The purpose of this review was to gather information on the operational procedures of Vet Centers.
The Readjustment Counseling Service (RCS) manages the Vet Centers and the provision of readjustment counseling. We found Vet Centers met their readjustment counseling responsibilities by providing both social and psychological services to veterans. Services provided by Vet Centers range from assistance with basic needs and benefits to therapeutic counseling for drug and alcohol abuse, sexual trauma, and post- traumatic stress disorder. Vet Centers provide a distinct service to combat veterans and their families.
We identified areas that required improvement. We found the documentation in client records was not always complete. Vet Center counseling records must contain specific elements to ensure that counselors properly document the care provided to veterans. We found that 19 (9 percent) of 203 Vet Centers did not have an External Clinical Consultant. External Clinical Consultants are required to perform at least 4 hours of monthly clinical consultation and help counselors to manage complex treatment issues. We also found that 52 Vet Centers did not have a seat on the support facility’s Mental Health Council (MHC). A seat on the MHC could establish collaborative relationships and encourage mutual referrals and consults. Last, we found that the RCS policies were not always followed. The RCS Chief Officer stated they were in the process of updating many of their policies.
We recommended that:
Vet Center counselors appropriately document in RCS client case files and that corrective action is taken when documentation problems are identified.
All Vet Centers have an External Clinical Consultant.
Each Vet Center has a seat and participates on the support facility’s MHC.
RCS comply with their existing policies or revise their policies to be consistent with present practice.
VA Office of Inspector General