Ocean County Press Release

THE VET CENTER, an arm of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will begin offering mobile counseling services in Southern Ocean County later this month.

The center's mobile counseling unit will park at the Southern Ocean Service Center in Manahawkin two days a month, saving nearby residents a drive to Lakewood.

"The Vets Center already has an office on Route 70 in Lakewood, but this new program will bring their services closer to thousands of veterans in the southern half of the county," said Freeholder Gerry P. Little.

Ocean County is the first county in New Jersey to have access to the mobile program.

Combat veterans, victims of military sexual abuse and even veterans' family members are eligible for counseling.

"Ocean County not only has more veterans than any other county in the state, but we also have more veterans over the age of 65," said Little, liaison to the Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau. "It's vital that these men and women have easy access to the services they need."

While initially the mobile unit will visit Manahawkin twice a month, the number of days could increase if the demand is high, Little added.

The mobile unit's private offices also ensure that all counseling sessions will be confidential.

Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said veterans can receive assistance from county, state and federal agencies at both the Veterans Service Bureau main office in Toms River and the satellite branch at the Southern Service Center.

"We have worked hard to reach out to the veterans community and offer them all the help we can," Vicari said. "We owe a debt of gratitude to each and every veteran who has worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces."

The Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau can be reached at 732-929-2096 or by visiting the Ocean County Homepage at www.co.ocean.nj.us.

The Vets Center was founded in the mid 1970s to respond to returning Vietnam War veterans.

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