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Identity & Community

Traveling RV Offering Services To Pittsburgh-Area Veterans

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Mark Nootbaar
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90.5 WESA

 

Navy veteran Ken Haynes stepped off a beefed-up RV, sporting military logos and said he was impressed with the vehicle.

The RV was a Vet Center’s mobile unit, touring the Pittsburgh area this week. Haynes stopped by on Wednesday when it was parked outside the Veterans Leadership Program offices in the Strip District. Later, it parked and opened its doors at the River Hounds Game on the South Side.

“They’re mobile, sophisticated, they can link up with other areas and they’re available for veterans all over the country, so it’s great,” Haynes said.

The Vet Center works solely with combat veterans and their families. It was created 35 years ago to help Vietnam vets transition back to civilian life.

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Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA
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90.5 WESA
Visitors of the Vet Center's mobile unit can access counseling and referrals to appointments at local veteran's centers, as well as the VA.

Vets who visit the RV can access on-site counseling, including video conferencing when needed and referrals to appointments at the Vet Centers in Crafton and White Oak.

Visitors may also get referrals to the programs at the Veterans Administration. But Vet Center Counselor Eric Lundblom said there is a bigger goal.

“To really let them know about the Vet Center program and other VA programs and capture their contact information so we can make follow up appointments with them,” Lundblom said.

Often veterans are not aware of all of the help for which they are eligible, he said.

“You have health care, you have benefits and you have burial and pension issues,” Lundblom said. “So, being out here to have face-to-face time with them and walk them through some things, as well as getting them referred to the proper office helps a lot.”

Sitting outside of typical veterans gathering places means they are just about guaranteed find a veteran to help. Though, community events not necessarily focused on helping veterans can still be helpful to their cause, said Vet Center Outreach Program Specialist Ryan Ahl.

“Western Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh area has a large amount of veterans, so chances are very good that the people we’re talking to know someone who is serving or has served,” Ahl said. “So it always provides a very good community service in that way as well.”

The unit will be at the VA Hospital Heinz Campus in Oakland from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 15. It will also visit the Penn Township Street Fair from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sept. 16 and stop outside of the Plum American Legion from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 17.