Vietnam Veterans Pave Way for Improved Mental Health Services

California, UNITED STATES


WINCHESTER, Calif., July 18, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The news today is filled with reports of the many challenges faced by troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. One of those challenges has been getting medical evaluations quickly performed and, if necessary, a treatment plan in place. Many of these brave men and women believe that if they were tough enough to endure the battlefield, they should also be tough enough to get through its painful, often debilitating memories.

Troops returning from Vietnam faced these and other challenges, as many felt that their nation did not support them.  Because of this, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) struggled to get both the awareness of programs available to veterans, while keeping up with the demands those seeking help.  VA reestablished a trustworthy relationship with American veterans, and in 1979, Congress passed legislation to create what are now referred to as Vet Centers.

The Vet Centers, staffed largely by former Vietnam veterans trained as readjustment counselors, continued to grow as word of their approach began to attract more and more veterans from Vietnam and other wars.  Vet Centers became the needed help "from someone who understands."

Still, those who bore the "invisible scars" of war, rather than reach out for help due to their ever-present and firmly held belief of inner strength, continued to search for solace in a bottle or other mind-numbing substances, while others abandoned life altogether, often resulting in homelessness.  Fortunately for post-9/11 and even Gulf War returning troops, their homecomings have been more often than not met with the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation.

Through its persistent outreach and education campaigns, thousands of veterans across the country have now been found and guided to recovery through the Vet Centers' variety of programs and services available to veterans and their families.

Another organization dedicated to helping veterans was started in the 1970's—Help Hospitalized Veterans, or HHV, which has since become the largest provider of free therapeutic arts & crafts kits to VA and military hospitals worldwide.  And HHV is proud to now also supply kits to Vet Centers across the nation.

HHV's kits are provided absolutely free of charge, and have proven to be an effective tool for veterans dealing with emotional issues related to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury as well as alleviate the boredom often associated with lengthy hospital stays.  Craft kits used in combination with recovery programs have also proven to help veterans struggling with substance abuse, as completed projects empower veterans with a sense of accomplishment, helping to prove to them that life is indeed worth living.  This can aid tremendously in a veteran patient's overall rehabilitation and recovery process.

Since 1971, HHV has donated over 27 million arts & crafts as well as direct support to many of VA's annual national rehabilitative special events.  For more information about HHV visit HHV.org, and for information or to find a Vet Center in your area, visit VetCenter.VA.gov.


        

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