The Killeen Heights Vet Center in Harker Heights is one of 300 centers across the nation serving combat veterans and victims of military sexual trauma.
Though the Vet Center program was established in the late 1970s as a way to help veterans reintegrate after the Vietnam War, many people don’t realize the services offered at the center are also available to active-duty soldiers, said Riley Becks, team leader of the Harker Heights center.
The facility provides individual and group counseling to active-duty combat soldiers, as well as their spouses and families.
Becks said until recently, active-duty visitors to the Vet Center were rare.
“It’s new that we’re just starting to see active duty, I’d say in the last couple of years. It used to be just for veterans after they got out of the military,” he said.
Though more Fort Hood soldiers are using the services at the Vet Center, Becks said some fear their leaders will be notified, but all services at the center are 100 percent confidential.
“We will not release anything to anyone of any agency without that service member’s express written authorization. They have no fear that anybody’s going to find out about them seeking counseling from us unless they tell them,” said Charles Edens, veterans outreach specialist.
All a soldier needs to do to access the services is walk in and show proof that he or she served in a combat theater.
“They just come right into the regular groups. You wouldn’t know they’re active duty. For the most part, they just fit right in with the others,” Becks said.
All services at the Vet Center in Harker Heights are free, Edens added.
“Whether they’re seeking services off post or utilizing Tricare, or whatever the case is, our services are free. There’s no money changing hands, no billing of insurance,” he said.