Vet Center celebrates 40th Anniversary

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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - On Thursday in Houghton, community members celebrated the Houghton Community Access Point, Escanaba Vet Center program's 40th anniversary.

This free service provides mental health counseling for veterans and their families to re-adjust after service.

"It's huge and it's actually to this date on June 13, 1979, that this started so it means a lot because this is a free service to veterans and their family members,” said Re-Adjustment Counselor Michelle Kovachich.

Their mission is to make a difference in veterans' lives, which they've done for one veteran who was ashamed to reveal his past.

"It took me 40 years to acknowledge my service, but it finally occurred to me that because of the Vietnam veterans, people don't blame the veterans anymore,” said Vietnam veteran Rich Harrer.

Harrer was encouraged to join the Vet Center after suffering from PTSD for many years.

When he did, he met other people who were like him and began to feel much better.

"It has been phenomenal, especially being with other brothers,” he explained. “The camaraderie, the fellowship, the ability to say anything and know that other people are going to understand what you're talking about."

Harrer now wears his army gear to push veterans to speak and then motivate them to join Vet Centers to get help needed to heal.

"I would encourage anyone in your listening area who is a veteran, whether it's Vietnam or any war, to please come into the Veteran Centers nearest them,” said Harrer.

"We want to be there to support them and their community and to be able to provide them proper counseling and assistance as they try and re-enter it,” said Kovachich.

Counselors say they're happy this outlet is available for veterans and their families. From here, they hope more veterans will feel inspired to join the center and continue healing with one another.

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