The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic opened its doors at USC on Thursday. This will be one of five Cohen clinics in the United States. The clinic will be working hand-in-hand with USC's Keck School of Medicine and Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
The Cohen Veterans Network is a fast-growing nonprofit organization, which aims to provide mental health care to veterans and their families. Recently, the network received a $325 million donation from Steven Cohen, a hedge fund manager whose son Robert served as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan.
The Cohen- USC clinic will exclusively focus on mental health and provide comprehensive social services that are needed in the veteran community.
Reports show about 20 percent of veterans suffers from mental illness. However they do not often receive the care they need due to lack of services and social stigma.
"It's important to meet the veterans where they are comfortable," said Jim Zenner, Associate Director of Community Programs.
Zenner is a military veteran who served in the Iraq War from 2006 to 2007. Upon returning to the United States, he obtained a social work degree from USC and joined the Cohen Clinic last month.
"I oversee a team of eight staff members all of who are veterans and/or spouses [of veterans]," Zenner said. "Our approach comes from the shared lived experiences. They've had the lived experience of being a veteran and a spouse."
Zenner said the clinic will work with local community groups to reach out to veterans and their families.
"We are aiming to provide a holistic approach by combining psychiatrists with social workers and case managers," said Anthony Hassan, CEO of the Cohen Veterans Network.
Hassan served as a director and clinical professor of the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) at USC for six years until 2015. Hassan has worked with Marilyn Flynn, dean of School of Social Work to focus on the research aspect of the clinic.
"We are opening a new front with this clinic," said Marilyn Flynn, the dean of the School of Social Work. "We have powerful tools to attack our problems."
Flynn said the purpose of the clinic is not only to serve as a mental health provider but as a place where social work student will be able to observe and research effective methods.
"We will take the experience and transform them into identifiable and translatable interactions," said Flynn
Thomas Fick, a retired Navy lieutenant, thinks the clinic will be great for veterans, given his personal experiences at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"I think the VA has their faults and to see the private sector step up gives me a lot hope walking out today going to my VA appointment," he said.
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