A couple years following his active duty service, Nick Tieman realized he needed to see a counselor. The Army Veteran started by seeing a counselor at his university. The person there recommended that he see someone at the Vet Center in Washington, D.C.
That’s when he found his confidant.
Tieman attends bi-weekly sessions with his counselor. He enjoys the sessions because they allow him to be free and comfortable with what he wants to talk about.
“I really enjoy going in there. It seems a lot less formal. It makes me feel more comfortable,” Tieman said.
When he’s doing well, he talks about what is making him happy. When he’s not doing well, he discusses what is bothering him.
“It’s nice to have that open platform to be able to talk about whatever I want,” Tieman said. “I don’t have to worry about always having something impactful and profound to say. It keeps me going in there knowing I don’t have to just go in there with something wrong.”
Seeking counseling is not easy. A person needs to realize they’d benefit from counsel, and then take the leap of faith that it’ll work. Tieman admits that the sessions have improved his well being, but he isn’t completely comfortable with sharing this part of his life with others. He occasionally feels shame, but knows those are the same feelings that drive him to go.
In Tieman’s situation, his counselor isn’t a Veteran himself — though many Vet Center counselors are. While Tieman’s counselor he can’t empathize directly with his military experiences, he does understand the feelings that go along with them.
“He’s really open about me talking about whatever I want to,” Tieman said. “It’s nice to go and dump my thoughts away from school and where I live. It just feels nice to do that.”
Tieman served two tours in Afghanistan with 82nd Airborne Division, which makes him eligible to use his local center. Vet Centers provide services to Veterans who experienced military sexual trauma, served in theater, provided emergent care to casualties of war, or were involved in combat or area of hostility. They are available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and America Samoa.
All VA Vet Center services are provided to the Veteran and their family without cost or time limitation.
To determine if you’re eligible to use Vet Center resources or would like to find a facility near you, visit the VA’s website: http://www.vetcenter.va.gov/