SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Hays County is home to about 14,000 veterans, according to the Hays County Veteran Services Office.
Until now, those who needed free counseling had to travel to Austin or San Antonio.
Now, the county is teaming up with two Austin centers to bring more of that help.
“Everything is very tough and home is very different,” says Jude Prather.
He remembers what it’s like coming home from the Iraq war in 2009.
“You just become a different person and you just work through that,” Prather says.
It’s why he became the Hays County Veteran Service Officer.
For years, they’ve been connecting local vets to resources but they couldn’t offer counseling close to home.
“We would always enroll veterans in the VA healthcare but we’re not there to make sure that they’re attending their appointments,” Prather says.
“We’ve off-and-on for the last few years been trying to get a real good foothold down there,” says Jane Olien, Austin Vet Center director.
Olien says the Austin Vet Center currently sees about 50 veterans from Hays County, a number she says is low compared to the thousands who live there.
She expects that number to jump now.
“If it’s PTSD you’re dealing with being in a community that you’re comfortable with is very important,” Olien says.
Counselors are available at the courthouse once a week, with a possibility of expanding over the next year.
“We need to make sure, all the effort it takes to send our young men and women off to war, we need to match it when they come back from war,” Prather says.
The Austin Vet Center started a similar program in Williamson County in March of last year.
It’s added a second counselor after growing to about 110 patients.
Hays County veterans and families seeking help with counseling can call the Veteran Services Office at (512) 392-8387 to coordinate an appointment.
The office is located on the second floor of the Hays County Courthouse on the Square, 111 E. San Antonio St., San Marcos.
You can click here for more information.