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New veteran counseling center approved for Fredericksburg area

Free Lance-Star - 12/1/2023

Dec. 1—The U.S.Department of Veterans Affairs announced Friday that it has approved several new veteran centers in various states, including Virginia. And the Virginia vet center will be in the Fredericksburg area.

The VA said the new facilities will include three "vet centers" and six smaller, satellite centers in a half-dozen states, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

The new Fredericksburg-area facility will be a full center, with a director, outreach specialist, program support assistant and two counselors.

No specific location for the facility was given in the VA news release. The VA said only that the new facility is in the leasing phase with no opening date determined.

There are 300 vet centers across the country, according to the VA. The nearest centers to Fredericksburg are in Alexandria and Prince George's County, Md.

The centers offer what the VA calls "readjustment counseling," with the aim of helping veterans and their families during the transition back to civilian life or following traumatic experiences in the military.

The centers are "community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional counseling to eligible Veterans, services members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families," according to the VA website page for the centers.

There is a new VA outpatient clinic under construction at U.S. 1 and Hood Drive in Spotsylvania County, but the clinic appears to be unrelated to the veterans center.

Local officials contacted by The Free Lance-Star were unaware of the announcement or plans for a new veterans center in the area.

As of Friday afternoon, Spotsylvania spokeswoman Michelle McGinnis said she couldn't confirm any information regarding the veterans center and its possible location.

Fredericksburg Council member Matt Kelly said the announcement was news to him and other city officials.

Stafford County Board of Supervisors member Meg Bohmke also said the announcement was a surprise and that she didn't know where the facility might be built. But the supervisor said it's good to know something is being done for military veterans.

The VA touted the benefit of the counseling centers.

"In 300 communities across the country, Vet Centers provide Veterans, service members, and their families with quick and easy access to the mental health care they need," VA Secretary Denis McDonough said. "We're expanding this program to make sure that these heroes get the support they so rightly deserve — no matter where they live."

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

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