The Veterans Administration's first inpatient program for Vietnam War veterans was opened in January 1978 at the VA Medical Center in Palo Alto, California. The unit treats a range of psychiatric disorders; however, the typical patient is a 34-year-old white male with a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder and at least one previous hospitalization. The program is designed as a three-phase therapeutic community based on mutual support and group solidarity. Medication is minimized. The program also reflects the assumptions that a debriefing, however belated, from military experience is essential, and that the clinical regimen should enable veterans to resume the transition to adulthood that the war interrupted. The average stay is five months; preliminary evaluation indicates that 60 per cent of the veterans achieve relief from acute psychological distress, resolve a crisis with a spouse or significant other, and begin a job or schooling.