Veteran resources changes

VA overhauls its services

By Melissa Renahan on January 31, 2014

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been overhauling its services in an effort to reach more of the growing veteran population than ever before. The result is an increase in online resources, published materials and overall community outreach for these men and women who served.

Locally, there are two VA medical facilities that offer inpatient and outpatient services to veterans covering a wide-range of specialties, from critical care and orthopedics to radiology and physical therapy. In the Puget Sound, there is the Seattle division, located at 1660 South Columbian Way, and the American Lake Division, located at 9600 Veterans Dr.?in Tacoma. Both can be reached through 1.800.329.8387.

There are also a number of area Community Based Outpatient Clinics where veterans can be seen for primary care appointments, lab work and social services. There's the Bremerton CBOC at 925 Adele Avenue, 360.782.0129; Federal Way CBOC at 34617 11th Place South, Suite 301, ?253.336.4142; and the South Sound CBOC at 151 NE Hampe Way, Chehalis, 360.748.3049.

Vet Centers can be another valuable resource, offering a variety of readjustment counseling services like family counseling, bereavement counseling, military sexual trauma counseling, substance abuse assessments and referrals and employment assessments and referrals. There are eight Vet Centers across the state, including one in Pierce County and three in King County. For a listing of all Vet Centers, visit

If veterans are in need of assistance to navigate the VA benefits maze, regional benefit centers are also nearby, located on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Main in Waller Hall, Bldg. 2140, Room 700. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. There is also a benefit office at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, open 9 a.m. to noon every other Monday.

The VA has publically announced its commitment to end veteran homelessness in the near future. Nationally, veterans or family members can also call 877.424.3838 to seek help for veterans at risk of becoming homeless. Within the area there are also organizations devoted to getting veterans off the streets and into beds, like Building 9 in Retsil, WA, which serves to help transition homeless veterans into employed citizens, or the Rescue Mission in Tacoma, which gives a quarter of its beds each night to local veterans in need.

My HealtheVet is VA's online personal health record that allows users to manage their own care plans and work with their doctors and nurses. It is available to veterans, as well as active-duty servicemembers, their dependents and caregivers. To register with the system, go to

The National Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention offers a myriad of online resources for veterans who might be trying to diet, get in shape, quit smoking or break other addiction cycles. The programs and information can be found here:

For even more intensive VA programs about substance abuse, including, which shares stories from veteran peers who have been in these same tough situations, check out

Finally, the Veterans Crisis Line, accessible here at for online chats, by calling 1.800.273.8255 and pressing 1, or by sending a text message to 838255 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All conversations are confidential whether through the toll-free hotline, online chat or via text.