Vet Centers of America Search by ZIP CODE

There are more than 300 Vet Centers across the United States and U.S. Territories whose primary function is to help veterans and their families adjust to civilian life after combat.

Vet Centers help overwhelmed VA hospitals by providing Veterans with valuable services such as counseling for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma, bereavement counseling, marriage and family counseling, and resources like VA benefits information and suicide prevention referrals.

To search by zip code for a Vet Center in your area click here

If you do not find a Vet Center near you, check out the Mobile Vet Centers.  There are 50 motorized vehicles – resembling super-sized recreational vehicles – that are driven to far-reaching rural areas as part of an “On the Road” outreach program

VA Targets Faster Claims Processing with New Segmented Lanes Process and Fully Developed Claims Program

Segmented Lanes is a new process that has been implemented at 16 VA regional offices, and will be adopted by all VA regional offices throughout 2013. When a veteran files a claim or sends evidence to support their claim, the VA’s Intake Processing Centers will now sort that claim into one of three Segmented Lanes:

  • Express
  • Core, or
  • Special Operations.

Separating claims immediately allows Veterans Benefit Advisors to identify (at the earliest possible point) any Veteran who requires expedited handling.  Expedited cases include any Veteran experiencing financial hardship, a homeless Veteran, a Veteran over the age of 75 or a Veteran who has a terminal illness.

The goal of Segmented Lanes is to help get benefit claims processed faster by placing each claim immediately in the hands of the right processor.  Doing so will increases processing accuracy because it “standardizes” the process across all of the VA regional offices. This means that a claim submitted at the New Orleans Regional Office will be processed in the same manner as a claim submitted to the Salt Lake City Regional Office.

The lanes break down like this:

  • Express Lane: This lane is for claims that have one or two contentions, or fully developed claims (read more about FDCs below).  An example would be if a Veteran files for an increase in compensation for a back issue and is also seeking to have her left hip condition service connected.
  • Core Lane: claims that have three or more contentions, or any claim that does not meet the criteria for the Express or Special Operations Lanes.
  • Special Operations: All claims that require special handling because of their nature (examples are Post Traumatic Stress Disorder associated with Military Sexual Trauma, former Prisoners of War, Traumatic Brain Injury).

Each lane has a dedicated claims processors whose skills and expertise match the lane to which they are assigned. This is how VA will process claims more quickly and more accurately. While no claim is the same, certain aspects of processing are alike.  Assigning processors dedicated to working similar claims will speed up the process and increase the quality of the determination.

Veterans Service Officer Catherine Trombley said,

“When I worked at the [Board of Veterans Appeals], I often worked several claims in a row for disorders that resulted from a Military Sexual Trauma because some of the same regulations applied to those claims (like rating criteria), even though the claims themselves varied dramatically. Not having to refer to different parts of the regulations saved time, but I also became really good at claims resulting from MST. If I worked at a regional office today, I would probably be in the Special Operations lane.

Another way the lanes are ensuring speed and quality is through the Fully Developed Claims  .program. Fully Developed Claims (FDCs) are assured faster processing because the Veteran certifies at the time they submit the claim that he or she has provided all evidence. That certification allows VA to move immediately forward on processing, without waiting the mandatory waiting period for the Veteran to submit evidence.

Veterans can opt to file an “informal claim” stating they intend to file a claim for benefits using the FDC program.  Doing so will allow the veteran to preserve an effective date while giving them sufficient time to collect evidence. The VA has assigned these claims to the Express lane, which expedites a determination to an average of 100 days.

Both Segmented Lanes and Fully Developed Claims processing are part of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Transformation Plan to standardize and speed up processing by 2015.  Veteran Service Organizations are available to help Veterans, their families and survivors file claims using both the traditional process and the Fully Developed Claims process. They provide this service whether you are a member or non-member. Let them help you.

House Passes Military Construction/VA Funding Bill 407-12

House Passes VA Funding: By a vote of 407-12, the House Thursday night overwhelming passed the Military Construction/VA funding bill despite threats of a veto by “the Administration”. The bill, H.R. 5854, provides $146.4 billion dollars for FY 2013, which is a 10-percent increase above last year’s levels. VA funding includes $54.5 in Advanced Appropriations for medical care, a boost for medical services and increases for jobs and disability programs for veterans.

House members voted to withhold funding on the DOD-VA integrated medical record project until both departments implement recommendations made by GAO earlier this year. It also provides:

  • * $6.2 billion for mental health services
  • * $5.8 billion for homeless veterans programs
  • * $35 million for continued research on the effects of PTSD and TBI
  • * $174 million for expansion of Arlington National Cemetery
  • * $1.1 billion for major and minor construction projects
  • * $1.7 billion for family and military personnel housing

To see how your representative voted, visit
For the committee press release and a list of amendments, go to

Hidden Wounds Provides Relief for Combat Stress Faster than VA

The mission of Hidden Wounds is to provide peace of mind and comfort for military personnel suffering from combat stress injuries such as PTSD and TBI until the Veteran’s Administration or Veteran’s Affairs agencies can deliver long-term services to their clients through government programs.

Hidden Wounds was formed in response to a tragedy involving its founder, Anna Bigham.  Anna’s brother, Lance Corporal Mills Palmer Bigham, served four years of active duty for the United States Marine Corps.

Lcpl Bigham served two tours of duty in Iraq with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Regiment.  He was released on October 18, 2008, with an honorable discharge and new rank, Combat Veteran.

Immediately, Anna recognized her brother was not the same young man she once knew.  Lcpl Bigham sought treatment for war trauma, depression, and anger through numerous trips to the local VA hospital. He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), however he was not given the treatment he deserved.  Anna made countless phone calls to check on his status for receiving those services, but each time there was very little to no response.

Anna supported her brother, battled for the right of his treatment, and cared for him during the long and horrific nights. It was too little, and too late. Mills took his own life waiting for those services on October 19, 2009.

Here is a description of the services provided by Hidden Wounds according to their Facebook Page

-Interim Counseling
Our main thrust is to provide counseling to soldiers who are in the enrollment process at the VA, or other agencies, or system of services, but who are waiting for confirmation of availability and treatment needs. These services are available until such time as the client is finally taken into the care of the VA, or alternate agencies.

-Emergency Counseling
Referring agencies too overwhelmed to respond, and families who are suddenly faced with a crisis situation, are invited to call Hidden Wounds. Our goal is to find a counselor in our network that could respond immediately to defuse the situation. From there, Hidden Wounds, works to find a properly equipped place for the veteran to safely stay until the crisis is passed, danger is contained and further treatment can be instituted.

-Family Support
Hidden Wounds provides resource materials and information to help family members of PTSD victims deal with their concerns and knowledgably support their veteran.

-VA Strategies
Hidden Wounds can provide strategic counseling services to support the Veterans Administration in the areas of intake, assignment of benefits, required paperwork, navigating a network of personnel, and other support advice while dealing with the VA

Contact Info:

Email Address:
Mailing Address: Hidden Wounds
7001 St Andrews Road PMB 323
Columbia, S.C. 29212

Description:501c3 non profit organization
General Information

1-888-4HW-HERO or 803-403-8460

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