Veterans and their families soon will have another place to treat the wounds and scars that no one can see.
The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners is expected to open its doors soon in Hinesville on Memorial Drive. “It’s exciting,” said Paul Wood, the chief communications and marketing officer for Cohen Veterans Network. “We have had our eye on Fort Stewart for a while.”
“It just made sense,” said clinic director Belinda Sharp.
Cohen, who also is the majority owner of the New York Mets Major League Baseball franchise, began working with the Robin Hood Foundation after his son, a Marine, returned home from combat in 2011.
Cohen started the Cohen Veterans Network in 2016 and opened the first Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic that year.
The clinics have grown to 24 locations, and Cohen has made a $275 million investment in building mental health clinics for veterans, soldiers and their families.
The Cohen Veterans Network looks at the number of post-9/11 veterans and active duty soldiers in an area when locating a clinic.
“This is one of the most deployed units in the whole country,” Wood said. “They’ll be here for nine months, home for a few weeks, and then gone for six months.”
The network conducted a nationwide survey and found the number one problem was access to mental health care.
Not just the soldiers can get care at one of the clinics, but so can the families.
“We’re trying to break down all barriers to care,” Wood said.
All of the clinic’s services are done on an evidence- based model, Sharp pointed out. The clinic can address concerns such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, anger, grief, relationship issues, transitional issues and child behavior issues. It also provides what are called wraparound services.
The clinic’s goal, Sharp said, is to get the soldier and the family back to being better for a better quality of life and to help them move forward.
“We are going to be providing mental health for individuals, for couples, for families, all ages, and even do group counseling,” she said.
Wood says the network has a close relationship with the Veterans Administration.
“The VA is a top referrer for us,” he said.
But family members may not have access to VA care.
“So there is a gap,” Wood said, “a gap that needed to be filled.”
The clinic allows the soldier or veteran to determine what constitutes a family member.
They also want to get service and care provided quickly, with intake provided within 24 business day hours. Those who are deemed to be in mental health crisis can be seen immediately.
“We’re going to take care of them that day,” Sharp said. “We do want to break down that barrier. They need to be seen.”
Services can be provided in person or through telehealth. Wood said approximately 60-65% of their clients are being served through telehealth.
Sharp added some clients may have to work late or have a session moved, leading to a telehealth session.
“It’s what’s most convenient for them,” she said.
The Hinesville location is the first Georgia clinic in the network, and there are licensed counselors and staff on hand.
“We want to make sure individuals get the best care,” Wood said.