The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Health recently celebrated its fifth anniversary—and guests from government, armed services, philanthropy, and veteran service organizations gathered on October 20 to celebrate.
Charles R. Marmar, MD, the Lucius Littauer Professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry, and executive director for the clinic, opened the program, recalling its history and achievements, and acknowledging the many people who contributed to its success.
“There were limited mental health services for veterans when we established the Military Family Clinic, especially for those who received a less-than-honorable discharge from the service,” noted Dr. Marmar. “Today, the clinic has helped more than 1,500 veterans and their families. That is something for which we can take great pride. But we could not have achieved such success without the support from our donors and our partnerships with many other organizations.”
Carolyn Clancy, MD, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), delivered the keynote address at the event, outlining the programs the VA has in place to address post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and what its future goals will be.
“We have to figure out how to lower barriers to mental health care to better integrate it with primary care,” said Dr. Clancy. “The rate of suicide is up among veterans. Our military men and women undergo several weeks of basic training, yet the transition out of service is so fast. It is critical that we address this and reduce stigma so that veterans seek help. They moved mountains for us. Now it is our turn.”
The formal part of the day’s festivities concluded with a lively discussion on the government, military, patient, and clinician perspectives on PTSD. Led by Loree Sutton, MD, commissioner of the New York City Department of Veterans Services, participants in the discussion included Dr. Clancy; Col. Miguel Howe, the April and Jay Graham Fellow at the George W. Bush Institute; Irina Wen, PhD, director of the Military Family Clinic; and Lamar Winslow, captain in the United States Marine Corps and a former clinic patient.
Other guests who offered congratulations at the event were Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY3), National Hockey League Hall of Famer and traumatic brain injury advocate Pat LaFontaine, and James Kelly, MD, executive director of the Marcus Institute for Brain Health at the University of Colorado.
First funded in 2012 by the Robin Hood Foundation, the Cohen Veterans Center and its affiliated Military Family Clinic received naming support from philanthropists Steven A. and Alexandra Cohen. The clinic is now part of the national Cohen Veterans Network of programs across the country providing mental health services to veterans and their families.
Other donors over the years have included Major League Baseball and the McCormick Foundation for the Welcome Back Veterans Dual Diagnosis Program, which integrates both mental health treatment with substance abuse services; Home Depot Foundation for the Telemental Health Program; and the New York City Council Veterans Initiative for the Traumatic Brain Injury Program.