Shout out to the Springfield Vet Center

Congratulations to the Springfield, MA Vet Center for 30 years of service to the community. The center recently moved to its location to offer more services. There are about 250 Vet Centers throughout the country providing a welcoming atmosphere for veterans seeking an array of services to assist in their readjustment.

Kathryn Roy’s article in the Springfield Republican quotes assistant office manager James Foley words about the center’s mission, “We provide quality readjustment services in a comfortable, confidential and safe environment to returning combat veterans. We mostly focus on post-traumatic stress readjustment.” Vet centers were designed in the post Vietnam War era to augment Veterans Administration Medical Hospitals by providing more community-based, easy access. Vet centers typically make efforts to reach out to veterans and their families. As Foley adds in the article, “We have much less red tape than someone would have getting an appointment with the VA.” The Springfield-based and many other Vet Centers offers an array of other services not typically found at VA hospitals including support for parents and loved ones, special treatment for sexual assault trauma, and posttraumatic stress reduction skills development programs including yoga and meditation. It is important that community mental health workers are aware of local vet centers, refer to them, and that there is mutual coordination of care.

I have worked with Team Leader Stan Gajda MA, LMHC,  who has worked at the Vet Center for many years. Stan is a combat veteran of Afghanistan who served with the 82d Airborne Division and has been in the Active Army and Army Reserve. Stan is a Major in the Army Reserved and the operations officer for the MA ARNG’s Medical Command.  In addition to his veteran service “street cred,” Stan is a very solid and warm man who connects easily with people. Stan works directly with combat veterans of all eras and provides couples, individual and group therapy.  He is also trained in EMDR therapy.

Mark Nickerson         January 3, 2015