VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A critical military veteran population in Hampton Roads has a new option when it comes to mental health services.
The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at The Up Center celebrated its grand opening Tuesday. The clinic is a not-for-profit organization to serve more than 200,000 post-9/11 veterans and military families in Hampton Roads. That includes families of active-duty service members.
The clinic offers mental health care at no or low-cost. Treatments for depression, anxiety, PTSD, adjustment issues, anger, grief & loss, relationship problems and more are part of the services.
The Virginia Beach location is part of a network of clinics, the 14th of 25 planned to open across the nation.
"The goal for the whole network is to save lives, save families and save futures. The bottom line is we want to fill gaps in care," Dr. Anthony Hassan, Cohen Veterans Network President and CEO, told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo. "If we can provide accessible, high-quality care to veterans and military family members, that’s our job, that’s our wish, that’s our mission."
Dr. Iman Williams Christians is the director of the Virginia Beach clinic. She comes with experience from other clinics in the Cohen Veterans Network and understands the issues post-9/11 veterans face.
"Veterans are more at risk for suicide than their non-veteran counterparts. We are trying to reach post-9/11 veterans with their mental health issues before they become long-term issues," she told Corillo.
Taking part in Tuesday's grand-opening ceremony was Sgt. Kyle White, U.S. Army retired. White became just the seventh living recipient of the Medal of Honor in 2014. He was awarded for his heroic actions saving teammates while wounded himself in Afghanistan.
However, returning home from war was not easy.
"It’s something I struggled with, but I realized like, 'I’m not okay, I don’t feel okay, this is not who I used to be, this is not who I want to be,'" he shared with Corillo.
White got the help he needed and now serves as an ambassador for the Cohen Veterans Network. He's hoping other veterans and family members will get the help they need.
"We still live in a society in 2019 where we are focused on this sort of stigma around mental health," White said. "The hardest part about the whole mental health process - getting help and getting back to better- is taking action and making that initial choice to get help."
"The invisible wounds are just as important as the physical ones," he added.
You can learn more about the clinic here.