The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 requires Vet Centers to provide readjustment counseling services to a broader group of veterans, service members and family members. Vet Centers are operated by the VA but are ‘‘situated apart’’ from VA general health care facilities.
To comply with the law, the VA has implemented an interim final rule to the Code of Federal Regulations (38 CFR 17.2000) effective August 4, 2015, regarding the medical regulation that governs Vet Center Services. Public comment on this change will be accepted through October 5, 2015.
Here are some of the changes implemented in the interim final rule:
- An amendment to reflect language of the law, defining a member of the Armed Forces as also including a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces.
- Readjustment counseling will be provided for Veterans and service members who:
- served on active duty in a theatre of combat operations or in an area at a time during which hostilities occurred in that area. There are no restrictions to any specific area or theatre.
- provided direct emergency medical or mental health care, or provided mortuary services to the casualties of combat operations or hostilities outside the theatre of combat operations or area of hostilities.
- engaged in combat by remotely controlling an unmanned aerial vehicle notwithstanding whether the physical location of such veteran or member during such combat was within such theater of combat operations or area.
- Readjustment counseling will continue to be provided for Veterans and service members who were receiving counseling prior to the date of enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA FY13).
- Readjustment counseling is provided for the readjustment of a family member of a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces, to aid the family member in coping with such member’s deployment. (new section 38CFR17.2000(d)(2))
Supplementary Information published with this interim final rule explains the broader group of veterans, members of the Armed Forces, and family members of such veterans and members that are now authorized to receive readjustment counseling services at a Vet Center. Information regarding the language of the law, the language of the amended code of federal regulations, and explanations of the situations under which counseling can be received is also included.
You can review the full explanation, the proposed changes, and submit comments on the amendments to the medical regulation that governs Vet Center services to the VA at https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-18988 . Comments are due on or before October 5, 2015.