SEATTLE — The Cohen Veterans Network aims to help the more than 500,000 veterans who live in the Puget Sound by offering mental health support regardless of a patient's ability to pay. On March 22, The Cohen Veterans Network will host a grand opening of The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Valley Cities in Lakewood, where they'll offer services to post-9/11 veterans and their families.
The Cohen Veterans Network was started by philanthropist Steven Cohen when he donated $200 million to make sure veterans and their families had access to mental health care.
"I could tell you that we have a problem with access to mental health care in America period," said Dr. Anthony Hassan, CEO of the Cohen Veterans Network, "But for veterans and military family members, Mr. Cohen said this is his focus. He wants to make sure every veteran and every family member can get the care they need when they need it."
The stigma surrounding mental health issues can deter veterans from finding care. To encourage veterans to seek out help, The Steve A Cohen clinic in Lakewood is heavily staffed by veterans and military family members who can relate to the unique struggles potential patients may be facing.
"Over half my staff is military veterans and military family members, including myself," said Valley Cities Clinic Director Nichole Ayres, "This position at the Cohen Veterans Network with this clinic as a military spouse and as a mental health profession, it's my dream."
The new clinic expects to serve 500 patients in its first year, and grow its clientele in the years to come. The clinic is offering new telehealth services, where patients can talk to a therapist via phone, computer or tablet from the comfort of their home or work, allowing those who may be too busy to attend an in-person appointment to still receive care.
"We really want to decrease the barriers to care," Ayres said. "There are so many barriers that veterans and their families face and if we can provide low to no barriers, we want to do that."
These services are provided at no cost to post-9/11 veterans or their families, regardless of ability to pay, experience level or what type of discharge status.
"We'll see a veteran after one day of service," Ayres said.
The clinic will serve family members as defined by the veteran. Family members can include parents, spouses, children, uncles, aunts, or those they consider family.
The Cohen Veterans Network encourages veterans to seek help when they or their family members start to notice changes in their behavior, instead of waiting until the behavior becomes a pattern.
"We've been trying for years and years to reach out and say 'try and get help now before your behaviors start impacting your duty performance or your relationships.' It's just so hard," Dr. Hassan said. "We really are trying to convince them getting help early is the best thing for your life, for your family, for your career."
GRAND OPENING EVENT: The Cohen Veterans Network invites you to attend the grand opening ceremony for The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Valley Cities on Friday, March 22, from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., at 6103 Mt. Tacoma Dr. SW, Lakewood, WA 98499.
Visit the Cohen Veterans Network's website to learn more about their organization. If you're a veteran or military family member and someone you know needs care, call the clinic at (253) 215-7070.