Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Mobile Veterans Center coming soon to Carbon County. From left are, Larry Heffley, third vice commander of the Vietnam Veterans Last Man's Club; John Williams, vice president of the Korean Veterans Last Man's Club; State Rep. Doyle Heffley; Fred Shaffer, commander of the Lehighton American Legion; Wayne Nothstein, member of the Vietnam Veterans Last Man's Club and Carbon County Commissioner; and Henry Desrosiers, director of Veterans Affairs for Carbon County.
A Mobile Veterans Center is coming soon to Carbon County.
The 38-foot van will be at the Lehighton American Legion Post 314, 314 Veterans Ave., Lehighton from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29 and will be back every month. Future dates are April 26 and May 24.
State Rep. Doyle Heffley arranged for the van to visit Carbon County to assist veterans with a variety of issues.
"Our goal is to have the van make a monthly visit to Carbon County," said Heffley. "I wanted to inform the area veterans and their families that assistance to veterans will be available in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans will be able to find information to access programs and services available in our area."
Heffley said that the van will continue to make the monthly visits as long as the van is utilized.
"That is our greatest concern, that the veterans will not use the van," said Heffley.
The number of veterans in Carbon County certainly warrants a van.
Henry Desrosiers, director of Veterans Affairs in Carbon County, said there are 6,300 veterans in Carbon County and that approximately 3,000 of them presently are not using the V.A. health system.
"Veterans are entitled to these services," said Heffley. "These individuals have served our country and they should not feel that this is anything other than what they deserve. I'm pleased that we can offer these services to our veterans and I'm proud to that we have so many veterans in Carbon County."
Heffley noted that the van is also available to veterans from outlying communities.
Heffley said that Lehighton Legion Post was selected because of its easy assess to the Pa. Turnpike and the wide parking lot and welcoming attitude of the Legion members.
The van features two private offices, satellite communication and Internet service with the V.A. Medical Centers. There is also video conferencing and tele-health capabilities. The center offers three flat screen televisions for training and educational videos. There is also wheelchair lift and accessibility. The center is staffed with a full-time veteran driver and a veteran counselor. Appointments are not required.
More information about the center and veterans services is available at RepHeffley.com
Rep. Heffley will also post legislative information on Facebook at Facebook.com/RepHeffley or veterans can call his office at (610) 377-6363 for additional information. Heffley is also planning to open a representative office in Albrightsville in the near future.
Some of the services provided through the Mobile Veteran Center are:
• Individual and group counseling
• Marital and family counseling
• Bereavement counseling
• Medical referrals
• Assistance in applying for VA benefits
• Employment counseling, counseling, guidance and referrals
• Alcohol and drug assessments
The mobile counseling centers were instituted about 2-1/2 years ago to reach rural and underserved veterans.
Fred Schaffer, commander of the Lehighton American Legion Post 314, is pleased that the post was selected to host the Mobile Veterans Center.
"We have plenty of parking and easy accessibility for the van," said Schaffer. "We can also offer the veterans restroom facilities and refreshments will be available at our Post. We couldn't be happier to be able to offer our Post Home to assist our area veterans."