HELENA – Helena will now have a new option for veterans who want access to mental health services.

The new Helena Veteran Center located at 1301 Elm Street, will provide a second option for veterans who don’t want to go to the larger Fort Harrison VA hospital. It will also create more capacity for mental health services.

“We will treat any combat veteran from any era and it can be anything that they are looking for help with. It can be from depression, from anxiety, can be from PTSD, traumatic brain injury,” said Eric Cattenring, Veteran Center Director for the Helena location.

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As of Monday, the new VA Center had empty rooms, but come early January, all the furnishings will be put in.

“You can see it doesn’t look like home right now but it should look like home in a couple of weeks,” said Cattenring.

Cattenring said they hope to serve around 50 to 100 veterans once the facility is up and running.

“Its just going to be (a) comfortable safe place in our community where veterans can come”, said Cattenring.

Cattenring is a veteran himself and said he served 25-years in the Army and Army Reserves, including time in Iraq. He said being a veteran, he has an understanding of what veterans need.

“You’ll find things where veterans will come and get a cup of coffee, they will sit down and want to warm up on a cold day, other veterans might want to come here and start an AA meeting, but you’ll find them come and typically express what it is that they are seeking,” Cattenring added.

Cattenring said ultimately they will offer ways to help connect veterans with each other with activities such as a book club or a walking group.They will also be available to help military sexual trauma survivors.

“We also try to do everything for them just like we would for a combat veteran without differentiating between the types of trauma they were exposed to,” said Cattenring.

Veterans and service members can continue to seek care from the temporary office at the Helena Job Service at 715 Front Street until the VA center is operational.

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