The Lowell Veterans’ Center ~ KANE’S KORNER


Providing professional, safe, and confidential personal and readjustment counseling to eligible veterans and their families in our community,

Director Elisabeth Parrott of the Lowell Vet Center emphasized that veterans coming through the door of the Lowell Vet Center have entered a judgement free zone. Kane could hear in Elisabeth’s voice that she meant what she said, and he thought this is the key component, veterans seeking services could be themselves in this space. Elisabeth oversees a staff of seven clinicians. Unlike a community health center clinicians at the vet center are knowledgeable of military terminology and lifestyle. This is a community where our very important military community members may participate in individual, family, or group support.

Elisabeth explained to Kane that Services are free and records are kept confidential. Although the vet center is funded through the Department of Veteran Affairs records are kept completely separate.

Neither the Department of Veteran Affairs nor the Department of Defense have access to these records. Kane knows that our military members have specific needs often not addressed in a typical community-based clinic. Sharing what was observed in a combat zone is received best by counselors and other veterans “that get it.”

Kane learned in a workshop that people have normal reactions to observing events that are mentally disturbing and abnormal to see. Having a safe place to process this information and make sense of feelings is a much needed and deserved resource. Elisabeth explained to Kane that readjustment to civilian life is extremely challenging and normal.

This made a lot of sense to Kane. Serving in a combat zone or knowing you are tasked with the security of our country, is very important work. Frankly, civilian life may feel a bit mundane after that in some ways and rewarding in others.

Kane asked who is eligible for services at the Vet Center in Lowell? Elisabeth explained that eligible members include:

Veterans that served in a hostile environment or combat zone including Reservists and members of the National Guard.

Military members that provided mortuary services or direct emergency medical care to treat the casualties of war while on active duty.

Members of unmanned aerial vehicle crew that provided direct support to those in a combat area.

Served active duty in response to a national disaster or civil disorder under orders of the President.

Current or former members of the Coastguard, who participated in drug interdiction.

Current members of the Reserve in need of addressing behavioral health or psychological trauma related to military service.
Members who received services from a Vet center before January 2, 2013.

Members who experienced military sexual trauma
And members who currently use any covered VA educational assistance benefits.

Elisabeth made it clear if you are a veteran and are in need of services that do not meet this criteria, please still check in so the team may provide referrals to meet your needs off site. Eligible participants do not need to be enrolled in VA health or a disability to receive services. Kane felt very comfortable talking to Elisabeth. She has a friendly voice and is quite passionate about the important work she and her staff do daily.

In terms of family involvement and care, Elisabeth explained that couples and family counseling is available to support their veteran family member. A few examples of offerings include communication support and education and parenting topics.

The clinic also supports gold star families with grief and bereavement if their service member died while serving on active duty. Elisabeth reported that eligibility for bereavement services has expanded recently to include families of veterans who died by suicide.

Kane knows how important family is in the reintegration process. He was happy to learn that family may be included in the support process.

Elisabeth was excited to report that besides the Lowell location on 10 George Street in Lowell three satellite locations have been added in Danvers, Peabody, and Gloucester. “The Lowell Vet Center provides services to a large area of Middlesex County,” Elisabeth said. Having satellite offices allows easier access to services for veterans not close to Lowell.

After talking with Elisabeth, Kane was excited to see where the Vet center was located, so he drove down to George Street and he found out there was excellent security. Kane was not supposed to be in the parking lot after hours so he was asked to leave but he did sneak back in the lot to take a picture. It was an exciting secret night mission. Kane was happy about the security and usually follows rules, just not today.

Kane would like to stay in touch with Elisabeth Parrott in the future. Her passion for her work is contagious. In fact, her office was preparing for Vietnam Veterans Day at the Billerica Town Hall on March 29th. Kane would like to bring Elisabeth some copies of the Valley Patriot for her clients next month.

If you would like to make an appointment at the Lowell Vet Center, please call 978-453-1151. Sometimes Isabelle answers the phone and she is also very pleasant to talk with. Kane knows the first step is hard and wishes anyone making that choice a positive journey.

As always thank you to all who served and their families. We appreciate you.

Kane Peaslee, Woof
Columnist Valley Patriot ◊