Innovation, Family, service and accessible treatment are cornerstones of the new Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Cape Fear Valley in Fayetteville, located at 3505 Village Drive. The clinic hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and public open house, Tuesday.
The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Cape Fear Valley is the sixth of 25 new clinics being built nationwide. The planned network of mental health clinics is a product of a financial gift from investor, hedge fund manager and philanthropist Steven A. Cohen, whose son served in the United States Marine Corps.
“This is the right thing to do for our veterans, he (Cohen) is personally committed,” explained Anthony M. Hassan, CEO and president, Cohen Veterans Network.
Cohen’s donation of $275 million is the largest single donor gift to the veteran space in history.
“But it’s not just that he’s given this money … this is important, this is so important to him,” said Hassan.
“The reality is that there is a huge demand for mental health care across the country, particularly for post-911 veterans and their Families, and we’re trying to be part of community solution. We want to be able to fill any gaps in care and be able to support communities in finding better ways to care for veterans and military Families … we just want to be part of the community solution to meet the mental health needs of the people who served our nation,” Hassan explained.
The clinic boasts innovation built from collaboration.
Clinics are sharing successes and innovative techniques, such as tele-health from clinic to home and wearables that will be introduced for use with high-risk patients to monitor biometrics for early intervention and prevention. The clinic’s plan is to use the data gathered from the entire network to indicate which evidence-based practices are working most effectively, and through utilization of the large pool of data they create, to build better care.
“People have ideas, but most of the time when people have ideas they don’t have the resources to implement them. We do. We are a small, nimble network that is private, we have very low bureaucracy and we’re willing to test models in a very controlled and safe environment,” Hassan said.
Hassan’s 30 years of experience in military behavioral health, and combined 25 years as an active-duty service member in both the Air Force and the Army, have uniquely equipped him to help build this network of unique clinics. However, Hassan is not the only Cohen employee who has a connection with the military.
“For you to trust us we have to be one with you, and this clinic is a perfect example. One hundred percent of the people (working in the Fayetteville clinic) right now are military affiliated. I don’t know any other group of mental health providers in the country that can say that,” said Hassan.
Another benefit to the Fayetteville community is that the clinic is no- to low-cost.
“We’re low-cost, meaning if you have insurance we’d like to bill that insurance because the more revenue we can generate from third party care the more … this clinic can do for those who don’t have insurance, or for those who are in a place where they’re in-between coverage … the bottom line is if you come here and you need help we are going to give you help,” said Hassan.
The clinic services are available to post-911 veterans, as well as military and veteran Family members.
“We are not seeing active-duty members … we don’t want to get in the way of mission readiness … I know firsthand the importance of knowing a Soldier’s mental health … but we do want to serve the active duty Family member because we know there is a strong urgent need, “explained Hassan.
More than 3,300 clients have been treated across the seven open clinics in the current CVN clinic network, and 38 percent of those clients are Family members.
Sgt. (retired) Kyle Jerome White, Medal of Honor Winner, and a vocal advocate for veteran mental health, attended the official clinic opening. He explained the importance of offering care to Family members as well as veterans.
“As we know, especially in a military-heavy community such as Fayetteville, the ones that are at home while their loved ones are deployed, they share hardships as well. They share those deployments, so, often some of the issues that arise from post traumatic stress, or their Family members being deployed for a long time, affects the entire Family unit. Being able to treat everybody as a Family is definitely something that I am excited about,” said White.
What also makes the clinics being built by the CVN stand out is how they define Family members.
We define Family member as anybody that the veteran defines as a Family member. It could be a girlfriend, it could be a mother, it could be an uncle, or who they are living with, any partner. It’s really simple. The veteran defines Family, Hassan said.
White had some advice for those who may be struggling to find the path to help.
“Stop worrying about it. It takes a lot of courage to be able to raise your hand and take that first step, and to be saying ‘I need help something’s not right. I need someone to help me ... you have no problem swearing in to fight and defend the constitution of the United States, to defend freedom and your Family. You’ll go and be in a firefight and put yourself in harm’s way but your worried about this one thing … what your peers might think,” he said.
“The benefits of treatment once you start seeing results, once you start feeling better, that feeling that you’ll have, is automatically going to trump any sort of thoughts you had about negative consequences for raising your hand for treatment.”