Services for Veterans

SERVICES FOR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES

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STATE, FEDERAL, NON-GOVERNMENTAL  AND INDEPENDENT

compiled by:

EMDR Network of Western Mass., wmassemdria.com

Veteran’s Education Project, Amherst, MA;
vep@crocker.com, www.vetsed.org

MASSACHUSETTS STATE PROGRAMS

Department of Veterans’ Services / 600 Washington Street, Suite 1100/ Boston, Massachusetts 02111 / Telephone: (617) 210-5480 Web Page: www.mass.gov/veterans: This department provides a variety of services and benefits to veterans living in state, many of which are in addition to the federal Veterans Administration’s services.

Veterans’ Service Officers (VSOs) These are the officials charged with helping veterans in Massachusetts in your community and on state college campuses.  A VSO provides services to veterans and their dependents living in Massachusetts. Appointed by municipal officials in our communities, they offer a helping hand to anyone in their community in need of guidance or assistance in matters relating to military service.  Campus-based officers help veteran students with financial aid matters, federal and state education procedures, and more.  Community officers assist with medical benefits, annuities, state financial assistance, shelter, education, veterans’ services, and more.  All VSOs should know how to link veterans to available federal and VA programs for veterans, as well as state programs.  To find the Veterans Service Officer in your community, look under the phone book listings for your city or town government for “Veterans Services”.   You can call your city or town offices to ask for the officer’s phone number.

Statewide (MA) Advocacy for Veterans’ Empowerment (SAVE), (888) 844-2838. This Massachusetts program offers initial assessments of veterans at risk of suicide and mental health problems, by telephone and outreach work by a team of SAVE counselors. This program was founded mainly to support veterans of our current wars, and most are veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. They help veterans access VA care and will advocate for better health and mental health services.
Go to: mass.gov/veteransterminal

State-funded Outreach Centers: Outreach Centers are non-profit organizations that receive state money through Mass. Dept. of Veterans Services (DVS) to assist veterans and their families with a range of services. These vary by location and can include: Professional counseling, Substance abuse counseling, Anger management, and Post-traumatic stress counseling.

Western Mass. Contact Information:

Mason Square Veterans Outreach Center, Inc./ 827 State Street/01109/ 413-886-0480 cscott@masonsquarevets.com

Mount Wachusett Veterans’ Outreach Center, Inc./ 26 Lake Street/ Gardner, MA 01440/ (978) 632-9601
Fax: (978) 632-9476, www.veterans-outreach.org

Puerto Rican Bilingual Veterans’ Association of MA, Inc., P.O. Box 70185, Springfield, MA 01107/ (413) 731-0194/ Fax: (413) 736-2008 www.bilingualvets.org

Joint Family Support Assistance Program (JFSAP) 50 Maple St., Milford, 01757, 1-800-342-9647. The JFSAP augments existing family programs to provide a continuum of support and services based on member and family strengths and needs and available resources. The primary focus of the support is military members and families who are geographically dispersed from military installations. The JFSAP team consists of a Military OneSource Consultant, Military Family Life Consultant, Red Cross Representative and Operation Military Kids Represe

FEDERAL PROGRAMS

Veterans Administration Medical Centers (in Northampton, Worcester, and other Mass. and N.E. communities)

The VAMC provides psychiatric, substance abuse, and PTSD services as well as primary and secondary levels of medical care to a veteran population in western Massachusetts of more than 85,000 men and women.

The Northampton medical center houses 85 psychiatric beds and a 66-bed nursing home care unit, a 16-bed substance Abuse, Compensated Work Therapy, Transitional Residence located off-campus, and the renown Ward 8 PTSD treatment program. Services are available for veterans of the Global War on Terror.; for more information, contact Judy Blanton, Point of Contact (413-582-3188) or John A. Laneve, Jr., MSW, LICSW, Program Manager (413-584-4040, Ext. 2320 or 2143).

Veterans Administration Vet Centers: In 1979, Congress established the provision for the federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to offer readjustment counseling in Vet Centers for Vietnam era veterans returning to civilian life. Since 1991, Congress has extended eligibility for counseling at Vet Centers to veterans of post-Vietnam conflicts including the Persian Gulf, Panama, Grenada, Lebanon, Somalia, Former Yugoslavia, and the Global War on Terror.

Vet Centers welcome home the war veteran with honor by providing quality readjustment services in a caring manner, and assisting them and their family members toward a successful post-war adjustment in or near their respective communities. Vet Center counselors provide bereavement counseling to parents, spouses, and children of armed forces personnel who died in the service of their country. Also eligible are family members of Reservists and National Guard members who die while on duty. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) counseling is available, as well as Military Sexual Trauma counseling for veterans of both sexes who are newly-returning or who served in a combat zone. Vet Center services include individual readjustment counseling, referral for benefits assistance, group readjustment counseling, liaison with community agencies.

Springfield Vet Center/ 1985 Main Street/Northgate Plaza/ Springfield, MA 01103 /(413) 737-5167;

Worcester Vet Center/ 597 Lincoln Street/ Worcester, MA 01605/ (508) 856-7456 (There are other centers, across Massachusetts.)

COMMUNITY-BASED V.A. OUTPATIENT CLINICS

As part of the overall VA Medical Center (VAMC) and Clinics service delivery system in outlying communities, VAMCs offer clinics with pre-care and after-care for veterans requiring services at the medical center. In addition, clinics offer initial and ongoing care and treatment for patients whose clinical needs are met primarily by outpatient services. Clinics in Greenfield, Springfield and Pittsfield are affiliated with the Northampton VAMC. Contact the Enrollment Coordinator at (413) 582-3100 for questions about eligibility. While veterans may apply for services at any time, the clinic operates by scheduled appointments. If you or someone you know is in need of services, please call or come in person to the clinic to schedule an appointment. Providing: Medical Services – Primary medical services; treatment of chronic and non-emergency medical conditions and immunizations. Mental Health treatment including diagnostic evaluation; psychotherapy services; referral to community resources and to inpatient treatment. PTSD, as well as general mental health outpatient services, are available to veterans of the Global War on Terror.

NON-GOVERNMENTAL & INDEPENDENT PROGRAMS

EMDR Network (of Western Mass) EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. It has been approved by the military as a treatment of choice for combat PTSD. Western Massachusetts has one of the largest communities of EMDR trained therapists in the world. EMDR therapists can work independently or in adjunct collaboration with other service providers. More information about EMDR and a listing of local clinicians can be found at wmassemdria.com

Give An Hourwww.giveanhour.org. A nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a national network of volunteers to respond to acute and chronic needs within our society. We are currently establishing a national network of mental health professionals and reaching out to our first target population, the U.S. troops and families affected by the current military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The mental health professionals who join us are giving an hour of their time each week to provide free mental health services to military personnel and their families. Those who receive services from the Give an Hour network will be given the opportunity to give back to their own communities.

The GI Rights Hotline (877-447-4487) provides accurate and helpful military counseling and information on military discharges, AWOL and UA, and GI Rights. Information is kept confidential. http://girightshotline.org/

GI Bill Informationwww.NewGIBill.org

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America http://iava.org/ IAVA is the nation’s first and largest group dedicated to the Troops and Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civilian supporters of those Troops and Veterans.  It is non-partisan in its advocacy for veterans’ services and rights.  The website and resources on it can be a valuable source of information, validation and support to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Massachusetts Operation Military Kids (OMK), Gretchen May, MA OMK Program Leader gmay@umext.umass.edu or 413-577-0332.  National website www.operationmilitarykids.org Local organizations and community partners as well as military and civilian families working together to ensure that Massachusetts military youth are safe, healthy, and supported!

National Veterans Foundation – 1-888-777-4433, www.nvf.org To serve the crisis management, information and referral needs of all U.S. Veterans and their families through: management and operation of the nation’s only toll-free helpline for all veterans and their families.  Public awareness programs that shine a consistent spotlight on the needs of America’s veterans.  Outreach services that provide veterans and families in need with food, clothing, transportation, employment, and other essential resources.

Operation Homefront, www.operationhomefront.net A non-profit organization that provides assistance to military families while service members are deployed.

Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists (SOFAR) Complementary psychotherapy and psycho-educational services for New England-area families of Reservists and National Guard members stationed in or returning from Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.  www.sofarusa.org

Veterans Education Project, Military Families Connect This peer-led support group is for members of military families with loved ones deployed to war zones or home from the war.  The group meets in Amherst twice-per-month.  Contact Susan Leary at the VEP office, vep@crocker.com or 413-253-4947.

Vets 4 Vets, (520) 319-5500, www.vets4vets.us – Vets 4 Vets is a peer support group for recent veterans. In weekend workshops and local groups, veterans talk and listen to each other to help heal from negative wartime and military experiences. Contact them to find out about upcoming workshops.

Veterans for America (VFA), formerly the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, is uniting a new generation of veterans with those from past wars to address the causes, conduct and consequences of war. Together, Veterans offer a crucial perspective when addressing public and political concerns about war in the 21st century.  www.veteransforamerica.org

Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) was formed in August 2002 as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization by war veterans who believe that we, the people of the United States of America, are most secure when our country is free, strong, and responsibly engaged with the world. Our mission, based on the pragmatic ideals of the American patriot Thomas Paine, is to raise the unique and powerful voices of veterans so that our military, veterans, freedom, and national security are protected and enhanced, for ourselves and for future generations.  www.veteransforcommonsense.org

Veterans for Peace. Veterans working together for peace and justice through nonviolence.  www.veteransforpeace.org

Yogaforvets.org was launched in 2007 and is directed by  yoga teacher and former Navy diver Paul Zipes.   The yoga community cares about our returning troops and prior war vets.  Giving 4 free yoga lessons is a small way of saying welcome back to America.  At best, some vets are finding yoga helps symptoms of PTSD and trauma.  At the least,  yoga is fun and healthy.  There is no “hook” here, the yoga community simply wants to show that we care about our vets.

Community of Veteranscommunityofveterans.org Join our veterans-only online community to connect with people who know where you’re coming from. Share your experiences and help others make the transition to civilian life. Stronger Together.

CRISIS INTERVENTION HOTLINES

National Suicide Prevention Hotline for veterans Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK, Veterans Press 1 The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and other private groups have partnered with the VA to provide a suicide prevention hotline to ensure veterans in emotional crisis have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Veterans

The Wounded Warrior Call-Center 1-877-487-6299 This is a hotline for injured, wounded, or ill former and current Marines, Sailors and their family members. They offer information, resources, and advocacy for men and women suffering from either physical or psychological wounds


*Information on military and VA approaches to helping active troops and veterans to cope with emotional trauma (including PTSD): http://www.battlemind.army.mil/; A useful overview of the military’s “Battlemind” theory and material: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlemind

*This is a partial list. For a comprehensive general guide on veterans’ issues and national resources for vets and military families, see: After the War Zone: A Practical Guide for Returning Troops and Their Families, (2008) L. B. Slone and M.J. Friedman, Da Capo Press, Philadelphia (Available at Barnes & Nobel, Amazon, etc.)