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New Lawton mental health clinic aims to care for veterans and their families
Daily Oklahoman - 4/20/2021
Apr. 20—A new mental health clinic in Lawton aims to offer a lifeline to veterans and their families.
The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Red Rock, which is operated by Oklahoma City-based Red Rock Behavioral Health Services and is part of the Cohen Veterans Network, opened its doors for in-person visits April 1 after a telehealth-only launch last year.
The clinic serves post-9/11 veterans, regardless of role or discharge status. It also serves family members of veterans or active-duty service members, a crucial part of the clinic's mission.
"Without our families, we just couldn't do what our nation asks of us," said Taylor Poindexter, the clinic's outreach manager and a veteran who served in the U.S. Army for over 30 years. "We oftentimes forget that the families suffer through the same trauma and the same anxiety that the actual service member does while they're serving."
Amista Chambers, the clinic's director, said the services through the Cohen Veterans Network are meant to complement and "stack hands" with services through the Veterans Affairs Administration.
"There are certain services that they can't get other places that we can help with, especially when it comes to treating the family members," Chambers said.
The clinic's staff has all had in-depth military cultural competency training so they can "speak the language" of the population they're serving, she said.
Poindexter said his own military service experience helps him bring credibility to his interactions with clients.
"It gives you that commonality where you can have a conversation about mental health care, and you can destigmatize that care that our post-9/11 veterans are seeking," Poindexter said. "What we try to do is make them feel confident that they are seeking the right services to help them get back to better and improve their quality of life."
While Lawton was chosen as the clinic's location because of its sizable population of post-9/11 veterans and their families, telehealth visits will continue so veterans around the state can access care.
Ryan Pitts, a Medal of Honor recipient and a Cohen Veterans Network ambassador, said the clinic's launch came at a perfect time as people have struggled with mental health issues during the pandemic.
During his own service from 2003 to 2009, he and other soldiers were either being deployed, or getting ready to deploy, he said.
"There really was no downtime, and that places a lot of stress on veterans. It places a lot of stress on families," said Pitts, who attended basic training in Oklahoma at Fort Sill.
Then, civilian life wasn't easier — it's "just a different type of hard," he said. Add COVID-19 on top of that, and families transitioning into civilian life had even more to worry about.
For someone on the fence about whether to seek help for their mental health, Pitts said he knows it's difficult to make that call. But it gets easier after that.
"When I served, I never wanted to fight any longer than I had to, and I would have taken any help that I could get. I don't see why this is any different," he said. "Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. If nothing else, do it for your battle buddies. Your decision to go get help may be the catalyst that spurs one of your battle buddies ... to go get the help that they need."
Address: 4202 SW Lee Blvd. Bldg. B, Lawton, OK, 73505
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: 580-771-2662 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information: visit the clinic website at red-rock.com/cohenclinic.php.
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