July 01, 2017

Honoring the Veterans Most in Need: Swords to Plowshares and Oakland Vet Center Create First of Its Kind Medical-Legal Partnership

Rose Carmen Goldberg, Swords to Plowshares, San Francisco, CA

It should come as no surprise that Vet Centers hold a special place for many veterans. Stepping into the waiting room of the Vet Center in Oakland, California (OVC), for instance, one is immediately surrounded by veterans’ artwork, invitations to potlucks, the smell of communal coffee, and free guaranteed same-day counseling intake appointments. In other words, it is a warm and inviting space. This atmosphere stands in contrast to the impersonal, clinical feel often associated with traditional health clinics. And this difference is by design. Congress created Vet Centers in 1979 in response to veterans’ desire for community-based alternatives to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals for counseling.1

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