The Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and a number of dignitaries came together this past Tuesday, and despite bad weather, they celebrated the groundbreaking for the new Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic.
Several officials were on hand for the ceremony to not only break ground, but also say a few words about the progress of the clinic as well as their plans for it in the future.
Dr. Anthony M. Hassan, the CEO & President, of the Cohen Veterans Network (CVN) spoke about the importance of the clinic to the community. Dr. Hassan is both an Army & Air Force veteran and he also has a doctorate in Education. He spoke on behalf of the CVN.
"Mr. Cohen is really pleased to bring what he calls a gift to the entire state of Georgia," said Dr. Hassan.
He went on to further elaborate that Steven A. Cohen put $275 million into the network and that all veterans, active as well as retired, are welcome. He said the CVN has served up to 20,000 veterans to date.
The project is just another step toward meeting the $275M commitment set forth by financier-philanthropist Steven A. Cohen to help reduce veteran suicide and increase care for military families.
Once complete the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic will be the first of its kind in the state of Georgia. More than 16,000 post-9/11 veterans and 19,000 active-duty service members, as well as 26,000 of their family members, will be eligible for care at The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic, according to a press release issued by the CVN.
The 5,000 square-foot Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic will soon hire a Clinic Director, several clinicians, and other integral roles including Outreach, Case Management, and Intake. CVN will announce a local operating partner for the clinic in the coming months.
The clinic is expected to open around March or April of next year.
Jimmy Shanken, Chairman for the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, welcomed those in attendance and immediately expressed his enthusiasm for the clinic.
"I think it's an exciting project," said Shanken.
Kenneth Howard, the City Manager for the City of Hinesville delivered the ceremony’s opening remarks.
"We have something that will enhance the quality of life," said Howard. "It's a collaborative effort and we could not be more proud."
Mayor Allen Brown also spoke at the event and shared the sentiments of those of the Chamber and the dignitaries.
"It's always great to see new businesses coming into our community," said Mayor Brown. "This project is a win-win."
Donald Lovette, Chairman of the Liberty County Board of Commissioners, added to the group’s enthusiasm by encouraging those involved with the clinic.
"Keep on moving day by day," said Chairman Lovette. "The best is yet to come."
Al Williams of the Georgia House of Representatives also spoke and shared his experiences as a veteran in the Vietnam War as well as serving on the State Military Committee. He also extended his appreciation for the developers and property owners for doing what they are doing for our veterans.
"There are very few towns that enjoy a cross-section," said Representative Williams. "Veterans came home to nothing. Look at the changes."
Brooke Childers, who represented US Congressman Buddy Carter's office, expressed her pride in calling Liberty County home and her gratitude in this project.
"This is my home," said Childers. "It's with extreme pride and help to bring people together."
Marian E. Smith of Strategic Commercial Real Estate announced the progress of the development as well as the enormous impact that the military has made on the community.
"We're about halfway through," said Smith. "The military affects the community in more than the obvious ways. It affects the lives of the families."
Last but not least, each speaker personally thanked Mrs. Melissa Carter Ray, the property owner/landlord for getting the ball rolling. They all believed that if it were not for her conviction and belief in this project, it would not have gotten as far as it has.