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Columbus Company Outfits Medical Vans For Veterans

After years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, American troops are heading home and many of them need psychological counseling.   The US military is expanding counseling services and it’s trying to reach vets where they live.   To that end, A Columbus company has outfitted 20 more mobile vet centers to help reach veterans who live in rural areas and small towns. At the Farber Specialty Vehicles assembly plant on the Far East side, Veterans Affairs Undersecretary of Health, Robert Petzel touts the deployment of 20 mobile vet centers across the U-S. "VA counselors in these mobile vet centers provide confidential counseling, explanations about VA benefits and access to VA benefits, screening for traumatic brain injury and depression." Says Petzel. The expansion of the mobile vet centers comes as the VA anticipates a higher caseload of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans. Joseph Jennings works in the Columbus VA center. He says traumatic brain injuries affect almost all veterans who have witnessed or been near an explosion, either from a roadside bomb or an improvised explosive device. Jennings says after an explosion, shock waves travel up to 900 feet per second. "That would be just like getting hit by Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier at the same time. One with a left hook and one with a right cross." Says Jennings. "Your body does not bleed but your brain gets pushed back and forth, jostling around almost like in a mixer." Jennings says in addition to possible traumatic brain injury almost every combat veteran exhibits some symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. "It may not be a full-blown night sweats or fears, but depression, all of these things are related to especially the PTSD side of the issue." The customized vehicles are equipped with confidential counseling space. They will travel to rural and remote locations in Ohio and across the U-S in hopes of convincing otherwise reluctant veterans to come forward and seek services. The VA's Chief Readjustment Counseling Officer, Alphonso Batres, says early intervention could help prevent more serious mental conditions. "We're into early prevention, providing  a way for these veterans to address the issues early and maybe we can prevent some of the more debilitating effects of PTSD that goes long term and untreated." Last year, 190,000 veterans and their families made 1,300,000 visits to V-A centers. With the addition of the 20 mobile  centers assembled in Columbus that number is expected to increase.