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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS Office of Inspector General Washington, DC 20420

TO:

Acting Under Secretary for Health (10)

SUBJECT:

Healthcare Inspection – Readjustment Counseling Service Vet Center Report

Purpose

As requested in House Report 110-775, to accompany H.R. 6599, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill, fiscal year (FY) 2009, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG), Office of Healthcare Inspection (OHI) is undertaking a systematic review of the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA’s) Vet Center program. 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. The purpose of this review is to gather information on the operational procedures of Vet Centers.

Background

During the period 1969 through 1979, Congressional hearings were held which identified the presence of readjustment difficulties in some veterans returning from duty during the

Vietnam

era.

In

1979,

readjustment counseling to

Congress passed legislation eligible combat veterans. 1

that

required

VA

to

provide

In response, the VHA established a nation-wide system of community-based programs separate from VA medical centers (VAMCs). The separation was based partially on the premise that many Vietnam era veterans were so distrustful and suspicious of government institutions that they would not go to a VAMC for care. Furthermore, readjustment services could be provided on an outpatient basis, regardless of the veteran’s income, removing unnecessary barriers to care and honoring requests for counseling without delay and with minimal red tape. It was thought that providing mental health services at Vet Centers would remove the stigma.

1

Public Law 96-22, Title I, § 103 (a)(1), 38 U.S.C. 1712A.

VA Office of Inspector General

1

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