Santa Cruz County Vet Center
We offer confidential help for Veterans, service members, and their families at no cost in a non-medical setting. Our services include counseling for needs such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the psychological effects of military sexual trauma (MST). We can also connect you with more support in VA and your community.
Meet our staff:
Director : Carolyn Carpenter, LCSW
Outreach Specialist : Christopher Hudson, MSMHW
Office Manager : Luis Salcedo
Counselor : Kara Pierce, LPC
Counselor : John Ycaro, LPCC
Counselor : Robert Wright, LMFT
1350 41st Avenue
We also have non-traditional hours that change periodically given our community’s needs. Please call us to find out more.
Need help after hours?
Our call center is available 24/7. Call us anytime at 877-927-8387.
Prepare for your visit
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We are located at the corner of 41'st Ave and Jade Street. The parking lot entrance is on Jade Street. Parking is available and shared with other tenants in the building. Walk toward the Breezeway and the Vet Center is on the first floor on your left. Handicap accessible.
You do not need to be registered for care at VA, rated for a service connected disability, or receiving any other form of VA benefits. On your first visit, we will look for one or more of the following:
- Discharge documents (such as a DD214)
- Receipt of certain awards
- Deployment orders
- Other documents that show qualifying military service
Request your military service records online.
If you don’t have these documents on-hand, come in and we can work with you to establish your eligibility and also answer any questions you might have.
First time visitor? Stop by during our office hours or give us a call and let's discuss how we can help. Call 831-464-4575 to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors.
We understand that you may not know what to expect for your first counseling appointment with the Vet Center. On your first visit you can expect:
- You will receive and be required to complete an intake packet which includes Vet Center Confidentiality, demographic information, release of information (optional), and assessments as appropriate.
- You will be evaluated to ensure that you and those around you are safe.
- You and your counselor will begin to establish and develop a treatment plan that is appropriate to your needs.
- Follow-up appointments will be scheduled as appropriate as determined by your counselor.
Local bus routes stop minutes away from Vet Center on 41'st Ave. Visit their website for more information. Santa Cruz METRO - Home (scmtd.com)
The Santa Cruz County Vet Center is a pick up point for the VA bus that runs daily from Monterey to the main Hospital in Palo Alto. There are additional stops at the Santa Cruz County VSO office and at the San Jose Clinic. Pick up time is 9:00 a.m. Drop off time at the Vet Center is 4:00 p.m.
Lift Line Van service has limited service days in the area and reservations are required. Visit their website Lift Line | Community Bridges or call 1-831-426-1276.
In the spotlight at Santa Cruz County Vet Center
See how your fellow Veterans made their connection to services.
You are not alone.
View Vet Center Testimonial - YouTube
Groups currently offered at the Santa Cruz County Vet Center include:
- PTSD Process and Support
- Women's trauma
- Whole health
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We offer couples and family counseling to support you as you work toward meeting your goals.
The Santa Cruz County Vet Center has trained Marriage and Family Counselors who can provide services to individuals, couples and family members
- Strengthen your marriage
- We can provided services to the complete family unit concerning PTSD issues
We’re here to support you if someone close to you has died or you’re adjusting to a difficult life change.
If you're having trouble adjusting to a difficult life change or someone close to you has died the Santa Cruz County Vet Center can offer counseling and other support, such as:
- Bereavement counseling for families who have lost a loved one while they were serving on active duty
- Grief counseling
If you're a Veteran who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, or a related identity, we can help you find counseling, support, and referral services to meet your specific needs.
If you’re struggling with issues like PTSD, depression, grief, anger, or trauma, we offer counseling and other support. We’ll work with you to help you achieve your personal goals.
If you experienced sexual assault or harassment during military service, we can help you get the counseling you need. Any Veteran or service member, including members of the National Guard and Reserve forces, who experienced military sexual trauma is eligible to receive counseling. This applies to people of all genders from any service era.
If you have symptoms of PTSD after a traumatic event, we can help. We offer assessment and support through private counseling and group therapy. We can also refer you to VA or community counseling for treatment and therapy resources.
At the Santa Cruz County Vet Center, we offer individual and group counseling.
Care at our Center includes:
- Anger management
- Stress management
- Activity engagement
- Motivational Interviewing
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Whole Health
If you’re returning from military service, we’ll help you transition to civilian life. We can connect you with educational and career counseling, mental health services, and other programs and benefits that will support your transition.
The Santa Cruz County Vet Center understands that the transition from military to civilian life can be a challenge. We offer a variety of ways to assist you in that process such as:
- How to get VA medical benefits and register for care
- Where to go to file claims and other forms
- Understanding your VA education benefits
- Housing and home loans
- Education and referral for VA burial benefits
We can also connect you to Veterans Service Organizations in your community.
Whole health puts you—instead of your illnesses or conditions—at the center of care. We’ll work with you to develop a personalized health plan based on your values, needs, and goals.
Groups offered to compliment the Whole health approach are:
- Mindfulness and and Mobility
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We can help you overcome substance use problems, from unhealthy alcohol use to life-threatening addiction. We'll connect you to services for your specific needs.
If you’re homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, we can help you connect with resources in your community.
We can connect you with the HUD-VASH housing staff along with local resources.
Call our Veterans Crisis Line at 988 and press 1 to get support anytime day or night. This service is private, free, and available 24/7. Our Vet Center can also connect you with ongoing counseling and services.
Important Phone numbers to have;
- Vet Center Call Center 1-877 WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387)
- Suicide Prevention Service for Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties 1-877-ONE-LIFE (1-877-663-5433)
We can help connect you to VA and community resources that will support you in achieving your goals.
The staff at the Santa Cruz County Vet Center can connect you to resources within the VA system and local Veterans resources within the community.
We can connect you with:
- College information centers
- Local County Veteran Service organizations to file disability claims
- Work study opportunities which allow you to make money while attending school
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We offer secure and confidential individual and group counseling through telehealth. You can schedule a phone or video appointment for Vet Center services.
We’ll help you achieve your job and career goals. We can connect you with one-on-one support, counseling, and training.
How we’re different than a clinic
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Vet Centers are small, non-medical, counseling centers conveniently located in your community. They’re staffed by highly trained counselors and team members dedicated to seeing you through the challenges that come with managing life during and after the military.
Whether you come in for one-on-one counseling or to participate in a group session, at Vet Centers you can form social connections, try new things, and build a support system with people who understand you and want to help you succeed.
Vet Center services are available to you at no cost, regardless of discharge character, and without you needing to be enrolled in VA health care or having a service-connected disability. If you’re a Veteran or service member, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, you can access our services if you:
- Served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility
- Experienced military sexual trauma (regardless of gender or service era)
- Provided mortuary services or direct emergent medical care to treat the casualties of war while serving on active military duty
- Performed as a member of an unmanned aerial vehicle crew that provided direct support to operations in a combat theater or area of hostility
- Accessed care at a Vet Center prior to January 2, 2013, as a Vietnam-Era Veteran
- Served on active military duty in response to a national emergency or major disaster declared by the president, or under orders of the governor or chief executive of a state in response to a disaster or civil disorder in that state.
- Are a current or former member of the Coast Guard who participated in a drug interdiction operation, regardless of the location.
Are a current member of the Reserve Components assigned to a military command in a drilling status, including active Reserves, who has a behavioral health condition or psychological trauma related to military service that adversely effects quality of life or adjustment to civilian life.
We encourage you to contact us, even if you’re unsure if you meet these criteria. If we can’t help you, we’ll find someone who will.
Our services are also available to family members when their participation would support the growth and goals of the Veteran or active-duty service member. If you consider them family, so do we. We also offer bereavement services to family members of Veterans who were receiving Vet Center services at the time of the Veteran’s death, and to the families of service members who died while serving on active duty.
No. You don’t have to be enrolled in VA health care or have a service-connected disability.
Safe and confidential. Our records can’t be accessed by other VA offices, the DoD, military units, or other community networks and providers without your permission or unless required to avert a life-threatening situation. Here, you can be as open as you want—there’s absolutely no judgment.