News: Vet Center gone Mobile
Story by Spc. Charlotte Fitzgerald
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, 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,” said Mark Ho, a Mobile Vet Center Readjustment Counseling Technician from Corona, Calif., of Combat Support Training Exercise 91, held in July 2012. The Mobile Vet Center was at Base Camp Milpitas on Fort Hunter Liggett for a few days to provide counseling and morale for combat veterans.
“We provide (combat veterans) with the readjustment portion counseling if they need it, but we are also a link to other benefits,” said Ho. “And while they are out here, (all service members) are free to use our satellite telephones, internet telephones, fax machine capabilities, laptops and we also play movies for their entertainment.”
The Mobile Vet Center is a re-designed recreational vehicle that members of the Vet Center use as a tool to reach outlying areas across the states and 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, Ho said.
“What the Mobile Vet Centers were designed for is to go out to rural areas and provide our 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. However, he said, while they are in a certain location, like the CSTX, they are more than willing to let servicemembers who have not yet served in combat use their Morale, Welfare and Recreation-type elements, such as the television to watch movies.
“It’s a way for them to get out of their daily routine,” he said. “It’s kind of MWR-type.”
If you would like more information on the Vet Center or the Mobile Vet Center programs and their locations, please feel free to contact 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 he is thankful for all the veterans who have served and 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.”