A new Veterans Administration office for providing counseling to combat veterans and their families will open in Schuylerville this fall, Saratoga town Supervisor Tom Wood said.
The location at Saratoga Town Hall will give veterans an alternative to going to an established Veterans Center in Colonie. The town is providing the office space at no charge, Wood said.
He announced the plans Tuesday at a meeting of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors in Ballston Spa.
“This will allow us to see some veterans who weren’t getting services before, and it will also be more convenient for some,” Wood said.
Veterans in Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties have had access to a counselor in the Saratoga area who was contracting with the VA, but that person is retiring, creating the need for another arrangement, said Felipe Moon, Saratoga County’s director of veterans services.
“This is awesome,” he said of plans for an office in the county, which will be a satellite of the Colonie office.
It will be staffed five days a week, though Moon said the hours of operation haven’t been determined.
The combat veterans counseling program is geared to providing professional assistance, from personal and group therapy to marital counseling, to combat veterans and their families — but doing it outside the existing VA hospital system.
Congress established the Veterans Center program in 1979 in recognition that a significant number of Vietnam-era vets were still experiencing readjustment problems. While the centers are part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, they are physically separate from VA hospitals like the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany.
The program today serves veterans and families of veterans who have seen combat in military actions since the Vietnam War, including the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In addition to readjustment assistance, the centers can furnish bereavement counseling services to surviving parents, spouses, children and siblings of service members who die of any cause while on active duty. Sexual trauma counseling is also offered.
In federal fiscal year 2012, the Veterans Center program nationwide provided 1.5 million appointments for 193,665 veterans and their families, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The new office in Schuylerville might increase that number ever so slightly.
“It will be a VA counselor from the Veterans Center who will be there,” Moon said. “It’s not just for veterans; it’s for their families, as well.”
Wood said the new office could start operating by October, though it won’t be fully geared up until about January.