By Rick Sallinger & Kelly Werthmann
GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (CBS4) – There is new help available for post 9/11 veterans and their families who have been experiencing mental health issues.
The Cohen Veterans Network opened the brand new clinic in Greenwood Village at 7800 E. Orchard Road. It is being run in conjunction with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
The foundation was founded by billionaire Stephen A. Cohen.
Cohen’s son was a Marine and urged him to open clinics around the country to help vets. This is the eighth in the U.S.
Tiffany Morgan is a Navy veteran and a case manager at this new clinic.
“The VA is a great referral source for us and vice versa. A lot of people that we’ll see are already utilizing services at the VA. This is just another option for them,” she said. “Mental health is no different than your physical health, but unfortunately [our country doesn’t] view it that way. So a big thing we’re doing is ‘let’s break that down.’”
The clinic offers free mental health treatment for post 9/11 veterans and their families without insurance. It accepts insurance from those who have it.
The significance of the opening was marked in part by the presence of former Army Sgt. Kyle White, a recipient the Medal of Honor.
He is not afraid to admit what happened in Afghanistan had an impact on his mental health.
“The 9th of November 2007 was undoubtedly the worst day of my life having lost my best friend and five other service members,” White told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger.
Caught in an ambush, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for risking his life beyond the call of duty.
White later felt what is referred to as “transition stress.”
“For me, it was like I had emotional outbursts. Didn’t have quite the patience I had before. Maybe I did isolate myself a little,” he said.
Now veterans and their families will be able to come together to this Cohen Veterans Network Clinic the same week they call for mental health treatment.
Even after leaving the military, veterans still have a passion to serve. For Morgan, that’s helping others who served the country.
“Because you’re no longer serving your country, the other way you can do that is by serving your fellow veteran because no one understands a veteran better than another veteran,” she said.
Matt Wetenkamp, of Colorado, was a Marine sergeant on the front lines in Iraq during the U.S. invasion in 2003. He knows what veterans face.
“Depression. anxiety, loss of sleep, self medication, and over reliance on doctor’s medication,” he said are just some of the problems they encounter.
He will now introduce this clinic to veterans in need.
“In the military you’re taught you work as a team. You don’t ask questions. You just do what you’re told, and you certainly don’t ask for help. So you can only imagine if you have some mental health issues going on, you’re certainly not going to ask for help for that,” Morgan said. “For veterans it’s especially hard because they’ve got the barriers from the way they were trained and then they get out and they feel very isolated.”
Post 9/11 veterans wanting to make appointments can contact www.denvercohenclinic.org, or call (303) 724-4255.
The Veterans Suicide Crisis line is 1-800-273-8255.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.