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Readjustment Counseling Service Vet Center Report

In 1981, VHA initiated a new organizational element, the Readjustment Counseling Service (RCS), to administer the Vet Centers and the provision of readjustment counseling. In April 1991, in response to the Persian Gulf War, Congress extended the eligibility to veterans who served during other periods of armed hostilities after the Vietnam era. On April 1, 2003, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Secretary) extended eligibility for Vet Center services to veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and on June 25, 2003, to veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and subsequent operations within the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The family members of all veterans listed above are eligible for certain Vet Center services, including family, and marriage counseling.

On August 5, 2003, the Secretary authorized Vet Centers to furnish bereavement counseling services to surviving parents, spouses, children, and siblings of service members who died of any cause while on active duty, including federally activated Reserve and National Guard personnel.

In 1996, the Advisory Committee on the Adjustment of Veterans (Committee) was established2 with the responsibility of reviewing the post-war readjustment needs of veterans and evaluating the availability and effectiveness of VA programs to meet these needs. Specific areas of concern were veterans’ military-related social and psychological readjustment problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcoholism and other substance abuse, and benefit matters.

The Committee reviews and evaluates Vet Center workload data, program policies, and program standard of care and clinical guidelines. The Committee submits a report to the Secretary on the programs and activities of VA that relate to the readjustment of combat veterans to civilian life. Each report includes an assessment of the combat veterans’ needs and makes recommendations for administrative or legislative action as the Committee considers appropriate. By law, the report must be submitted to the Secretary no later than March 31 of each year. At the time of this review, the Committee had completed its twelfth report.

Scope and Methodology

We developed an internet-based OHI information request which was completed by each RCS Vet Center team leader (232). We reviewed the RCS Administrative and Clinical Quality Review reports completed during FY 2008, and we aggregated certain data elements from both reports. We met with the RCS Chief Officer and staff and conducted telephone interviews with the seven regional office managers. We did a statistically random selection of 14 Vet Centers,3 which we visited December 2–12, 2008. During

2 3 Public Law 104-262, § 333, 38 U.S.C. § 545. The 14 Vet Centers we visited are in Alabama, Arizona, California Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Texas. The complete list is in Appendix B.

VA Office of Inspector General


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