38 USC 1712A - Eligibility for readjustment counseling and related mental health services

(a) 
(1) 
(A) Upon the request of any veteran referred to in subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall furnish counseling to the veteran to assist the veteran in readjusting to civilian life. Such counseling may include a general mental and psychological assessment of the veteran to ascertain whether such veteran has mental or psychological problems associated with readjustment to civilian life.
(B) Subparagraph (A) applies to the following veterans:

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(i) Any veteran who served on active duty
(I) in a theater of combat operations (as determined by the Secretary in consultation with the Secretary of Defense) during the Vietnam era; or
(II) after May 7, l975, in an area at a time during which hostilities occurred in that area.
(ii) Any veteran (other than a veteran covered by clause (i)) who served on active duty during the Vietnam era who seeks or is furnished such counseling before January 1, 2004.
(2) 
(A) Upon the request of any veteran (other than a veteran covered by paragraph (1)) who served in the active military, naval, or air service in a theater of combat operations (as so determined) during a period of war, or in any other area during a period in which hostilities (as defined in subparagraph (B)) occurred in such area, the Secretary may furnish counseling to the veteran to assist the veteran in readjusting to civilian life.
(B) For the purposes of subparagraph (A), the term hostilities means an armed conflict in which the members of the Armed Forces are subjected to danger comparable to the danger to which members of the Armed Forces have been subjected in combat with enemy armed forces during a period of war, as determined by the Secretary in consultation with the Secretary of Defense.
(b) 
(1) If, on the basis of the assessment furnished under subsection (a) of this section, a physician or psychologist employed by the Department (or, in areas where no such physician or psychologist is available, a physician or psychologist carrying out such function under a contract or fee arrangement with the Secretary) determines that the provision of mental health services to such veteran is necessary to facilitate the successful readjustment of the veteran to civilian life, such veteran shall, within the limits of Department facilities, be furnished such services on an outpatient basis. For the purposes of furnishing such mental health services, the counseling furnished under subsection (a) of this section shall be considered to have been furnished by the Department as a part of hospital care. Any hospital care and other medical services considered necessary on the basis of the assessment furnished under subsection (a) of this section shall be furnished only in accordance with the eligibility criteria otherwise set forth in this chapter (including the eligibility criteria set forth in section 1784 of this title).
(2) Mental health services furnished under paragraph (1) of this subsection may, if determined to be essential to the effective treatment and readjustment of the veteran, include such consultation, counseling, training, services, and expenses as are described in sections 1782 and 1783 of this title.

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[(c) Repealed. Pub. L. 104–262, title III, § 331(b), Oct. 9, 1996, 110 Stat. 3198.]
(d) The Under Secretary for Health may provide for such training of professional, paraprofessional, and lay personnel as is necessary to carry out this section effectively, and, in carrying out this section, may utilize the services of paraprofessionals, individuals who are volunteers working without compensation, and individuals who are veteran-students (as described in section 3485 of this title) in initial intake and screening activities.
(e) 
(1) In furnishing counseling and related mental health services under subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the Secretary shall have available the same authority to enter into contracts with private facilities that is available to the Secretary (under sections 1703 (a)(2) and 1710 (a)(1)(B) of this title) in furnishing medical services to veterans suffering from total service-connected disabilities.
(2) Before furnishing counseling or related mental health services described in subsections (a) and (b) of this section through a contract facility, as authorized by this subsection, the Secretary shall approve (in accordance with criteria which the Secretary shall prescribe by regulation) the quality and effectiveness of the program operated by such facility for the purpose for which the counseling or services are to be furnished.
(3) The authority of the Secretary to enter into contracts under this subsection shall be effective for any fiscal year only to such extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts.
(f) The Secretary, in cooperation with the Secretary of Defense, shall take such action as the Secretary considers appropriate to notify veterans who may be eligible for assistance under this section of such potential eligibility.
(g) 
(1) 
(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (C) of this paragraph, the Secretary may close or relocate a center in existence on January 1, 1988, only as described in the national plan required by paragraph (3) of this subsection (or in a revision to such plan under paragraph (4) of this subsection in which the closure or relocation of that center is proposed).
(B) A closure or relocation of a center which is proposed in such national plan may be carried out only after the end of the 120-day period beginning on the date on which the national plan is submitted. A closure or relocation of a center not proposed in such plan may be carried out only after the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date the Secretary submits a revision to such plan in which the closure or relocation of that center is proposed.
(C) The Secretary may relocate a center in existence on January 1, 1988, without regard to the national plan (including any revision to such plan) if such relocation is to a new location away from a Department general health-care facility when such relocation is necessitated by circumstances beyond the control of the Department. Such a relocation may be carried out only after the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the Secretary notifies the Committees on Veterans Affairs of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the proposed relocation, of the circumstances making it necessary, and of the reason for the selection of the new site for the center.
(2) 
(A) Not later than April 1, 1988, the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives a report on the Secretarys evaluation of the effectiveness in helping to meet the readjustment needs of veterans who served on active duty during the Vietnam era of the readjustment counseling and mental health services provided pursuant to this section (and of outreach efforts with respect to such counseling and services). Such report shall give particular attention, in light of the results of the study required by section 102 of the Veterans Health Care Amendments of 1983 (Public Law 98160), to the provision of such counseling and services to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and to the diagnosis and treatment of such disorder.
(B) The report required by subparagraph (A) of this paragraph shall include
(i) the opinion of the Secretary with respect to
(I)  the extent to which the readjustment needs of veterans who served on active duty during the Vietnam era remain unmet, and
(II)  the extent to which the provision of readjustment counseling services under this section in centers is needed to meet such needs; and
(ii) in light of the opinion submitted pursuant to clause (i) of this subparagraph, such recommendations for amendments to this subsection and for other legislative and administrative action as the Secretary considers appropriate.
(3) 
(A) The Secretary, after considering the recommendations of the Under Secretary for Health, shall submit to such committees a report setting forth a national plan for all centers in existence on January 1, 1988. Such national plan shall set forth the Secretarys proposals as to each such center for a period (to be determined by the Secretary) of not less than 12 months beginning on the date of the submission of the report. The plan shall include, as to each center, whether the Secretary proposes to relocate the center to a general Department facility, relocate the center to a new location away from a general Department facility, expand the center in the same location, or close the center. The plan shall also set forth any proposal of the Secretary to open additional centers.
(B) The plan shall include the Secretarys evaluation as to how, in light of each of the criteria described in subparagraph (C) of this paragraph, the proposal set forth in the plan for each center covered by the plan would ensure the continued availability and effective furnishing of readjustment counseling services to eligible veterans needing such services in the geographic area served by that center.
(C) The Secretary shall make the evaluation described in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph with respect to any center in light of the following:
(i) The distribution of Vietnam-era veterans in the geographic area served by the center and the relationships between the location of such center and the general Department facility and such distribution.
(ii) The distance between the center and the general Department facility.
(iii) The availability of other entities (such as State, local, or private outreach facilities) which provide assistance to Vietnam-era veterans in the area served by the center.
(iv) The availability of transportation to, and parking at, the center and the general Department facility.
(v) The availability, cost, and suitability of the space at the general Department facility.
(vi) The overall cost impact of the proposed closure or relocation, including a comparison of the recurring nonpersonnel costs of providing readjustment counseling to the same estimated number of veterans at the center and the general Department facility.
(vii) The workload trends over the two previous fiscal years, and projected over the next fiscal year (or longer), at the center.
(viii) Such other factors as the Secretary determines to be relevant to making the evaluation described in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph.
(D) For the purposes of this paragraph, the term general Department facility means a Department facility which is not a center and at which readjustment counseling would be furnished in a particular geographic area upon the closure or relocation of a center.
(4) After submitting the plan required by paragraph (3) of this subsection, the Secretary may submit to the committees a revision to such plan in order to modify the proposal set forth in the plan as to any center. Any such revision shall include, with respect to each center addressed in the revision, a description of the Secretarys evaluation of the matters specified in paragraphs (3)(B) and (3)(C) of this subsection.
(5) For purposes of determining a period of time under paragraph (1)(B) of this subsection, if the national plan (or a revision to the national plan) is submitted to the committees during the 121-day period beginning 60 days before and ending 60 days after the final day of a session of the Congress, it shall be deemed to have been submitted on the sixty-first day after the final day of such session.
[(h) Repealed. Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(b)(6), Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 405.]
(i) For the purposes of this section:
(1) The term center means a facility (including a Resource Center designated under subsection (h)(3)(A) of this section) which is operated by the Department for the provision of services under this section and which
(A)  is situated apart from Department general health-care facilities, or
(B)  was so situated but has been relocated to a Department general health-care facility.
(2) The term Department general health-care facility means a health-care facility which is operated by the Department for the furnishing of health-care services under this chapter, not limited to services provided through the program established under this section.