Dayton Vet Center provides critical services Published Nov. 10, 2021 By Darrius Parker 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – As Veterans Day passed, people had the opportunity to remember and thank veterans of the past and present. Making sure their mental health is strong remains equally important. The Veterans Health Administration is America’s largest integrated health care system, providing care at 1,293 health care facilities, including 171 medical centers and 1,112 outpatient sites of varying complexity, serving 9 million enrolled Veterans each year. One of the programs under the Readjustment Counseling Service, which falls directly under the VHA is the Dayton Vet Center. Veterans, active-duty service members, National Guard, Reserve, and even family members can receive free help and develop tools there for achieving success in both military and civilian lives. Michael Green, veteran outreach program specialist for the Dayton Vet Center, takes every opportunity to invite veterans and active-duty service members to boost their mental health whenever possible. “It’s my job to go out to the community and talk to these veterans and active-duty military, not only to ensure that they are getting connected to any resources they may be looking for, but to also make sure that they are getting the mental health assistance that they are looking for,” he said. Dayton Vet Center services include: Individual and group counseling for veterans, service members and their families Family counseling for military-related issues Bereavement (grief) counseling Military sexual-trauma counseling and referral Community outreach and education Substance-abuse assessment and referral Employment referral Referral of other VA services Another advantage of visiting the Vet Center is confidentiality, Green added. He said nobody has access to anyone’s records, unless under one of three conditions: the client gave permission for a specific individual, he or she means to harm themselves or others, or a court order has been issued. “Some Airmen and veterans may not want people to know that they are being seen, due to the fact that they believe receiving this kind of assistance would harm their career,” he said. “At least 10% of veterans that come into our office claim confidentiality is a main worry and that they don’t want anybody to know.” Although Green prioritized confidentiality and safety for all clients, he also encourages any veteran or active-duty service member with mental health issues to get help. “It’s all about the effort you put into the sessions,” he said. “We are not diagnosing and we are not prescribing, but we are focused on getting veterans and service members back to a better place. “I believe strongly in this program because mental health is a serious problem, and it won’t get any better unless we all make the effort. Most military folks understand and actually feel better about that because we aren’t just trying to patch the wound; we are trying to fix it.” Green says the mindset of “I can handle it myself” tends to be more prevalent within the younger generation, but it’s not always doable and can actually do more harm than good. Being an Army veteran and having also received mental health care, he mentioned how important this is to actually help those who were in a similar position. “This is huge for me,” he said. “I was lucky enough to find this program because I didn’t even know it existed.” Once Green embraced the program himself, he was able to secure a job at the Dayton Vet Center. He has now worked at the VA for over six years, including three in community outreach. To be eligible for Dayton Vet Center services, individuals must meet one of the following criteria: Served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility Experienced military sexual trauma (regardless of gender or service era) Provided mortuary services or direct emergent medical care to treat the causalities of war while serving on active duty Performed as an unmanned aerial vehicle crew member who provided direct support to operations in a combat theater or area of hostility Accessed care at a Vet Center prior to Jan. 2, 2013, as a Vietnam-era veteran Served on active duty in response to a national emergency or major disaster declared by the president, or under orders of a governor or state chief executive in response to a disaster or civil disorder Current or former Coast Guard service member who participated in a drug-interdiction operation, regardless of location There are no costs or fees, but all clients, regardless of discharge type, must provide a DD Form 214 (report of separation) to receive services. For more information regarding Dayton Vet Center services, call 937-296-0489 or go to www.dayton.va.gov. **Information in paragraph three was corrected, and should have stated that the Dayton Vet Center falls under the Readjustment Counseling Service, which directly falls under the Veterans Health Administration.