By THAWANNA HURGE

Director of Community Impact

March 2024

In order to bring needed mental-health services closer to local veterans, the VA’s Clermont Mobile Vet Center will start parking at the UWLS office on every other Monday on April 1. Then the plan is to move it to other locations each month in Lake and Sumter Counties to make it more accessible to everyone.

The Clermont Vet Center is a community-based counseling center that provides a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional counseling to eligible veterans, service members — including National Guard and Reserve components — and their families.

By partnering with the Mobile Vet Center, United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties will be able to make available individual, group, marriage and family counseling, in addition to referral and connection to other VA or community benefits and services.

The Mobile Vet Center is a large mobile vehicle with space for confidential counseling and is used to provide outreach to eligible individuals in communities that are distant from existing services. It will be parked at United Way and then other locations twice a month from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. to meet the mental health needs of our local veterans.

Veterans may be exposed to different traumatic events while serving our country. Many of those life-changing experiences can result in PTSD.

According to the Veteran Affairs website, almost all service members will have reactions after returning from deployment.

“These behaviors and feelings are normal, especially during the first weeks at home,” according to the website. “Despite the challenges of reintegration, most service members will successfully readjust with few problems. However, seeking solutions to problems is a sign of strength. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the resources that are available to you and your loved ones.”

Having knowledge, coping skills, and social support will positively influence your ability and attitude to handle the uncertainties post-deployment and better prepare you for the coming reintegration.

As part of the Mental Health Executive Order, VA is providing seamless mental health resources to all eligible Service members and Veterans for at least one year after their discharge from military service. They partner with the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Veterans Service Organizations, Congress, and community organizations to make sure you have the right resources and the support you need, whenever and wherever you need it, according to the website.

UWLS provides free transportation to veterans in Lake and Sumter Counties through its Mission United program, getting them to their medical appointments. So we know many veterans have this barrier in accessing needed health care. Having this mobile mental health resource in our community at different locations will definitely be a game changer for those that may not have reliable transportation but are in need of Mental Health services.

If you know someone that can use this Mobile Vet Center service, please share the location with them. Our Veterans have served us and made great sacrifices; this partnership will allow us to serve them.