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Mobile center for veterans open four days next week in El Paso

Then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki talks with veterans May 22, 2012, at the U.S. Army’s Sergeant Majors Academy at El Paso, Texas. He also visited the El Paso VA Health Care System.

Veterans will be able to use the Mobile Vet Center during four days next week, Veterans Affairs officials announced Thursday.
The Mobile Vet Center will be staffed with counseling and outreach workers to provide veterans and their family members with information, referrals and counseling service options, said Sheila Austin, spokeswoman for the VA health care system in El Paso.
Austin said the Veterans Affairs Department, the Las Cruces Vet Centers and the El Paso VA Health Care System are collaborating to ensure that veterans have access to mental health, bereavement, benefits and employment assistance, military sexual trauma and family counseling services.
Veterans do not need an appointment to use the Mobile Vet Center, Austin said.
The Las Cruces Mobile Vet Center from Las Cruces will be set up temporarily at the American Legion-Post 58, 4724 Vulcan, in Northeast El Paso.
Austin said the VA will also have eligibility, scheduling and health care staff available at the mobile center.
The schedule for the Mobile Vet Center is as follows:
Tuesday, noon -- 8 p.m.
Wednesday, 8 a.m. -- 8 p.m.
Thursday, 26: 8 a.m. -- 6 p.m.
June 27: 8 a.m. -- noon.
The VA Health Care System has been under fire in recent weeks after veterans complained that they could not get medical appointments or had to wait for months to see a health care provider and some never got one. A survey commissioned by U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, and a VA internal audit confirmed that El Paso's VA is one of the centers where this is true, despite the VA's previously stated goal of providing veterans with an appointment within 14 days.
Austin said the El Paso VA Health Care System is an outpatient facility that serves veterans in West Texas and Southern New Mexico. The main facility is on Fort Bliss property next to Beaumont Army Medical Center.
In addition, the VA operates two community based outpatient clinics in East El Paso and Las Cruces.
El Paso's VA provides comprehensive primary care, mental health services and a variety specialty care options, Austin said. When service cannot be provided by the VA, non-VA care may be offered through community resources, VA officials said.
Officials said veterans can speak confidentially with a counselor by calling 1-877-WAR-VETS (877-927-8387). To contact the El Paso Vet Center, call (915) 772-0013, and the Las Cruces Vet Center is at (575) 523-9826. The website for the local VA is www.elpaso.va.gov.
Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at dvaldez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6140.

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