A center focused on helping veterans make the transition into life after combat opened Wednesday in Myrtle Beach.
Unlike a veteran's clinic which offers medical services, the Horry County Vet Center offers counseling services for military service men and women as well as their families. Horry County has a large veteran population, with the majority having served in Vietnam.
Just outside the new vet center at the corner of 21st Ave. N and Grissom Parkway, those who have served in past wars and many from the community came out to celebrate its opening.
The service included a missing man table, which honors those missing in action from each branch of the military. Those currently serving were also honored.
"They're coming home injured both emotionally and physically and I think it's very important that we support them because they're all volunteer they do this for us," said Charles Stuby with Rolling Thunder.
With a salute to the flag the new center opened its doors. For the last year and a half the center was housed in the vet clinic on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base and they've already held about 3,500 counseling sessions.
"It's just a joy to see people and their families make the transition which it helps and get what they adequately deserve," says James Gordon, Director of the Horry County Vet Center.
Gordon is a Vietnam veteran and after the center's were first established in 1979, he sought help then became a counselor. He says education is very important in helping veterans transition to civilian life.
One area the center focuses on is helping combat veterans deal with post traumatic stress disorder. Gordon says it's important they get help for PTSD early because it's a progressive illness.
"We just really educate veterans on what's happening with them. Not just diagnosing them and saying take this but explaining what's going on," he said. "The residuals from war doesn't stop when a veteran comes home. We learn them how to transition and deal with those issues that they haven't had anyone help them deal with before.
Veteran Warren Spaulding suffers from PTSD and encourages other vets to get counseling for it, "I would suggest not to be afraid or ashamed of it. It's just something that happens."
The Horry County Vet Center is located at 2024 Corporate Centre Drive in Myrtle Beach. They can be reached at (843) 465-0713. There are three other vet centers in the state.