OCEANSIDE, Calif. — A new mental health clinic just opened in Oceanside to serve post-9/11 veterans, active-duty service members and their families.
The clinic is part of the Cohen Veterans Network (CVN), and it was chosen because of its proximity to Camp Pendleton.
A ceremony Wednesday morning celebrated the grand opening. Several speakers took the podium, including Medal of Honor Recipient Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts. He now works as an ambassador for CVN.
"Physical health, obviously there's a lot of help out there for that, there's not sort of that stigma that's associated with getting help like there is with mental health," said Staff Sgt. Pitts. "I think when we talk about it, we encourage others to get help, we talk about our journey, we normalize it, we de-mystify mental health."
Those eligible for this clinic include over 33,000 post-9/11 veterans, about 40,000 active-duty service members and more than 31,000 military family members.
Staff Sgt. Pitts was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in 2014 for his courageous acts while serving in Afghanistan.
He said the transition from military life to civilian life is hard. He said he struggled with depression, and some of his friends have struggled with anxiety. This new clinic is designed to help military members and their families deal with those challenges, in addition to grief and loss, PTSD and more.
At least half of the clinic's staff are former members of the military or related to someone who's served.
The Cohen Veterans Network was created in 2016, and has treated more than 42,000 people. The Oceanside clinic will be the second Cohen Clinic in California after one opened in San Diego in 2019. Another is slated to open later this year in Los Angeles. Besides offering in-person care, these new Cohen Clinics could also provide telehealth services state-wide to over 655,000 potential clients.