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Mental health lifeline opens in Oceanside for military families

Oceanside now has a new resource for active duty service members, veterans and their families. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne says its purpose is to meet the increasing mental health needs of the men and women who have given so much.

The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic opened its doors on Wednesday in Oceanside for active duty service members, veterans, and their families.

Its purpose is to meet the increasing mental health needs of the military community.

“Many of our families can't afford to pay $2 to $3 million a session, so they can come here to this clinic and get care with no barriers. If you can't afford it, we’ll figure it out," said Dr. Anthony Hassan, the president of Cohen Veterans Network.

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His organization is committed to reducing veteran suicides and increasing care for service members.

Marine Corps Col. Daniel M. Whitley said that investment is vital to the military and Camp Pendleton communities.

“Having access to high quality and timely care, specifically mental health care, is critical to what we do for the nation, he said. "Not just for the service members but also for their families.”

Clinic founders chose Oceanside because of its proximity to Camp Pendleton and because of the impact 9/11 left on the community.

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One of the speakers at Wednesday's opening ceremony was Amy Forsythe, the author of “Heroes Live Here: A Tribute to Camp Pendleton Marines since 9/11." She shared what she'd learned while researching the book.

"More marines and sailors that were based at Camp Pendleton were killed in action or wounded in combat than any other one base or station in America. So that's a heavy burden for any community," she said.

The clinic will offer therapy for a variety of mental health issues including PTSD, transition challenges, grief, family issues and children's behavioral problems.

Telehealth services will also be available to clients statewide.

The Oceanside site is the second Cohen Clinic in California. There’s already one in Mission Valley, and a third location is set to open in Los Angeles by the end of the year.

Cohen Veterans Network currently operates 21 clinics and plans to open 25 clinics by the end of 2022.

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