“Trauma is an expulsive cataclysm of the soul.” - David Brooks
Few people understand the experience of serving one’s country in combat. Fewer still know what it is like to return home from war and navigate the return to “normal.” PTSD, survivor’s guilt, depression, and transition stress are just some of the challenges veterans and their families face after deployment.
However, resources for treatment specific to veterans’ trauma can be hard to find and many treatment plans fail due to the lack of cultural competency on the part of civilian mental health care providers. According to national studies conducted by United of Southern California, 40 percent of veterans who come home with mental health issues are not receiving the care they require.
The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone in Clarksville, Tennessee provides behavioral health care for veterans and all military family members, regardless of status, role, or combat experience. This not-for-profit clinic opened on August 13, 2018 to serve a high-need community with low-to no-cost treatment, regardless of insurance or the ability to pay.
“Not a lot of people realize that Clarksville has the second highest concentration of veterans in the country,” said Don McCasland, LCSW-CCTP and therapist at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone. “We are seeing over 50 patients a week and 10 to 15 new patients a day...The demand is there.”
What makes the clinic so effective is its human connection. Nearly every staff member is a veteran or a family member to a veteran, including parents, siblings, spouses, and children, and have been trained to work specifically with veterans. They have lived through this unique experience, which means they can show patients how to overcome the barriers between military and civilian life.
“I am a veteran myself,” said McCasland, “and I experienced a lot of the same things we see in our clients. They need to know there are people out there who care and understand and who they can trust.”
That compassion helps drive genuine, personalized care. Every detail of the clinic, from the dimmed lighting specialized for traumatic brain injury survivors to the floor plan that makes the clinic feel like a trusted friend’s home, caters to the specific needs of patients. Programming ranges from one-on-one therapy, to trauma-sensitive yoga, group anger management classes, and family counseling.
“Our goal is breaking down barriers to care and filling the gaps the community can’t fill,” said Meghan Williams, Outreach Manager for the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone. “There are intense and unique challenges in treating mental health for veterans and their families. We pride ourselves on being faster with care and treating regardless of status.”
“We want to end the stigma to treatment,” added Rebecca Davis, Annual Giving Manager for Centerstone. “If I was physically sick I would go to the doctor; it is the same for emotional care.” Providing a confidential and understanding environment for veterans is key to getting more patients the quality care they need.
With hundreds of thousands of service men and women transitioning to civilian life every year, the need for excellent mental health care will continue to grow. Thankfully, the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone will be there to welcome veterans home and help them find the path back to a better quality of life.
To learn more, visit centerstone.org/cohen.
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