38 CFR § 17.2000 - Vet Center services.

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§ 17.2000 Vet Center services.

(a)Eligibility for readjustment counseling. Upon request, VA will provide readjustment counseling to any individual who:

(1) Is a veteran or member of the Armed Forces, including a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces, who:

(i) Served on active duty in a theater of combat operations or an area of hostilities (i.e., an area at a time during which hostilities occurred in that area); or

(ii) Provided direct emergency medical or mental health care, or mortuary services, to the causalities of combat operations or hostilities, but who at the time was located outside the theater of combat operations or area of hostilities; or

(iii) Engaged in combat with an enemy of the United States or against an opposing military force in a theater of combat operations or an area at a time during which hostilities occurred in that area by remotely controlling an unmanned aerial vehicle operations, notwithstanding whether the physical location of such veteran or member during such combat was within such theater of combat operations or area. Individuals who remotely control unmanned aerial vehicles includes, but is not limited to, individuals who pilot the unmanned aerial vehicle as well as individuals who are crew members of the unmanned aerial vehicle and participate in combat related missions. The crew members include, but are not limited to, intelligence analysts or weapons specialists who control the cameras, engage the weapon systems, as well as those individuals who are directly responsible for the mission of the unmanned aerial vehicle.

(2) Received counseling under this section before January 2, 2013.

(3) Is a family member of a veteran or member of the Armed Forces, including a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces, who is eligible for readjustment counseling under paragraphs (a)(1) or (a)(2) of this section. For purposes of this section, family member includes, but is not limited to, the spouse, parent, child, step-family member, extended family member, and any individual who lives with the veteran or member of the Armed Forces, including a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces, but is not a member of the veteran's or member's family.

(b)Proof of eligibility. With the veteran's or member's of the Armed Forces, including a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces, consent, VA will assist in obtaining proof of eligibility. For the purposes of this section, proof of service in a theater of combat operations or in an area during a period of hostilities in that area will be established by:

(1) A DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) containing notations of service in a designated theater of combat operations; or

(2) Receipt of one of the following medals: The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Service Specific Expeditionary Medal (e.g., Navy Expeditionary Medal), Combat Era Specific Expeditionary Medal (e.g., the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal), Campaign Specific Medal (e.g., Vietnam Service Medal or Iraq Campaign Medal), or other combat theater awards established by public law or executive order; or

(3) Proof of receipt of Hostile Fire or Imminent Danger Pay (commonly referred to as “combat pay”) or combat tax exemption after November 11, 1998.

(c)Referral and advice. Upon request, VA will provide an individual who does not meet the eligibility requirements of paragraph (a) of this section, solely because the individual was discharged under dishonorable conditions from active military, naval, or air service, the following:

(1) Referral services to assist such individual, to the maximum extent practicable, in obtaining mental health care and services from sources outside VA; and

(2) If pertinent, advice to such individual concerning such individual's rights to apply to:

(i) The appropriate military, naval or air service for review of such individual's discharge or release from such service; and

(ii) VA for a VA benefits eligibility determination under 38 CFR 3.12.

(d)Readjustment counseling defined. For the purposes of this section, readjustment counseling includes, but is not limited to: Psychosocial assessment, individual counseling, group counseling, marital and family counseling for military-related readjustment issues, substance abuse assessments, medical referrals, referral for additional VA benefits, employment assessment and referral, military sexual trauma counseling and referral, bereavement counseling, and outreach. A “psychosocial assessment” under this paragraph means the holistic assessing of an individual's psychological, social, and functional capacities as it relates to their readjustment from combat theaters. Readjustment counseling is provided to:

(1)Veterans and members of the Armed Forces, including a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces, for the purpose of readjusting to civilian life or readjustment to continued military service following participation in or in support of operations in a combat theater or area of hostility.

(2) A family member of a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces, for the purpose of coping with such member's deployment.

(3) A family member of a veteran or member of the Armed Forces, including a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces, to aid in a veteran's or member's readjustment to civilian or continued military service following participation in or in support of operations in a combat theater or area of hostility, only as it relates to the veteran's or member's military experience.

(e)Confidentiality. Benefits under this section are furnished solely by VA Vet Centers, which maintain confidential records independent from any other VA or Department of Defense medical records and which will not disclose such records without either the veteran's or member's of the Armed Forces, including a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces, voluntary, signed authorization, or a specific exception permitting their release. For more information, see 5 U.S.C. 552a, 38 U.S.C. 5701 and 7332, 45 CFR parts 160 and 164, and VA's System of Records 64VA15, “Readjustment Counseling Service Vet Center Program.” The term Vet Center means a facility that is operated by VA for the provision of services under this section and that is situated apart from a VA general health care facility.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 1712A, 1782, and 1783)
[78 FR 57073, Sept. 17, 2013, as amended at 80 FR 46200, Aug. 4, 2015]