AF Veteran Matthew Desrosiers, Outreach Specialist for the Manhattan Vet Center
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
While some Veterans like to come to the massive Brooklyn and Manhattan Medical Centers, others are more comfortable in a more low key setting. Since just after the Vietnam War, VA’s Community Based Outreach Centers (CBOCS) and Vet Centers have been offering specialized services in settings that may seem less daunting.
Matthew Desrosiers is the Outreach Specialist for the Manhattan Vet Center, located at 32 Broadway Suite 200 in the Financial District. He is an Air Force Veteran who maintained F-15 fighter jets and deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Desrosiers discovered his first Vet Center in Tampa as a V.A. Work Study student completing his BS under the Montgomery G.I. Bill. One thing led to another, and he is now currently holding the outreach position at the Manhattan Vet Center while completing a Master’s Degree at Fordham with Post 9/11 G.I. Bill support, expecting to receive his degree in June 2013. Committed to the Vet Center mission, once Desrosiers has his degree in hand, he hopes to work there as a counselor. Desrosiers said Vet Centers while Vet Centers also employ non Veteran clinicians, they are heavily staffed by Veterans trained as licensed Psychologists, Social Workers, and Mental Health Counselors.
Although not everyone is aware, “the Vet Centers fall under Readjustment Counseling Service which is part of VHA,” says Desrosiers. “The difference between Vet Centers and CBOC’s is that Vet Centers exclusively offer free readjustment counseling services to combat Veterans and their families.” Desrosiers explains further that In order to receive mental health counseling at a Vet Center you must have deployed to a combat zone during your time in the military, or be an immediate family member of a Veteran who has.” Desrosiers says that eligible Veterans are referred to the Vet Center by the major medical centers when the Veteran has expressed a preference for being treated in a more informal setting. “Counseling at a Vet Center is 100 percent confidential,” said Desrosiers, “we have an in-house record keeping system that is separate from the V.A. Medical Centers and is only accessible by Vet Center staff.”
Desrosiers said that the Manhattan Vet Center services include individual counseling, group counseling, marriage and family therapy, bereavement counseling for families who have lost a service member on active duty, and military sexual trauma counseling for any veteran, male or female, who has experienced any kind of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape while serving in the military. The MST population is the one population that we serve that does not have to have deployed to be seen for counseling at a Vet Center. A new OEF/OIF/OND therapy group has been started at the Manhattan Vet Center by Dr. Michael James and will be held every other Wednesday at 11 a.m.. Dr. Marcia Stern will also be starting a group for men who were sexually assaulted while serving in the military. Eligible Veterans and their family members can be see any time at one of the six Vet Centers in the New York City area.
For more information and Vet Center locations call 212-742-9591 or www.vetcenter.va.gov.