A new mental health clinic for veterans and their families has opened in West Philadelphia. The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic is a partnership between Penn Medicine and Cohen Veterans Network.
The new clinic at 3535 Market Street is free to veterans and their families. It’s goal — to provide evidence based mental health treatment at a time when 20 veterans take their own lives each day.
The program is meant to serve as a complement to the Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, says former Staff Sergeant and Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts. He says he struggled to adjust to civilian life after leaving the military.
“We need to have as many people working together as possible. I’ve had positive experiences with the VA, but there’s a lot of areas of unmet need,” he said at an event to honor the clinic’s opening Friday.
After meeting the head of the Cohen Veterans Network, Pitts loved the model and became one of the organization’s spokespeople.
He was especially drawn to its focus on access and serving the whole family. Family members are eligible for free care too, including individual therapy.
“The family is a really critical support in veterans’ wellness,” said Leah Blain, the Clinic’s Director.
“We want to serve those who serve, we want to serve those who support those who served, and we know that that in turn helps those veterans as well.”
Long wait times, a deterrent for accessing care, shouldn’t be an issue at the new clinic. Leah Blain, the Clinic’s Director, says wait times for that first appointment will be less than a week after intake.
“We know that after after a week, every day that you schedule someone out that you schedule someone out to do that initial assessment, you lose about seven percent of people actually showing up for that initial appointment.”
The program will also provide support with unemployment, housing, finance and education. It will accept all veterans, even those who were not honorably discharged.
This clinic is one of five other Cohen Veterans Network Facilities across the country. The network hopes to expand to 20 more clinics in 3 years.