Mental Health Clinic For Veterans To Open In Oceanside

OCEANSIDE, CA — Oceanside's military community will soon have a new resource with the opening of a mental health clinic from Cohen Veterans Network (CVN).

The purpose of the clinic is to meet the increasing mental health needs for post-9/11 veterans, active duty service members, and military families. This will be the second Cohen Clinic in the state as the San Diego clinic opened in 2019.

CVN's partner for these clinics is Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD),which is its current partner at the Cohen Clinic in San Diego, located in Mission Valley. Each year, VVSD provides services to more than 3,000 military veterans throughout San Diego County.

These clinics offer brief, client-centered therapy for a variety of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, adjustment issues, anger, grief and loss, family issues, transition challenges, relationship problems, and children's behavioral problems.

More than 33,000 post-9/11 veterans, nearly 40,000 active duty service members, and more than 31,000 military family members will be eligible for care at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic in Oceanside, according to a statement from the Cohen Veterans Network.

The Oceanside clinic, which will be located at 3609 Ocean Ranch Blvd, Ste. 120, and is expected to begin serving clients virtually in March.

The Patch reached out to Dr. Anthony Hassan, President & CEO of CVN and Akilah Templeton, CEO of VVSD to get more information about the new Oceanside clinic.

Can you tell us more about the plans for the new Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic in Oceanside?

"There are many factors in play these days which are negatively impacting our mental health, including the continued challenges of COVID-19 and the possibilities of future deployments. We are here to serve veterans, active duty and families throughout the entire state of California," said Dr. Anthony Hassan. "We are expanding on our proven success in San Diego and scaling up to the meet the additional need."

"I think for everyone in our country, mental health is a real societal challenge. Trying to find access to care and getting good quality care. I think that's true for our military community where they have problems getting access to care and waiting a long time for appointments and high costs. Cohen Veterans Network is here just to make sure that mental health support is available to the military without any barriers."

"It's a sad state when people who need help can't get it and continue to suffer in silence. As a retired military mental health guy I know for military people it takes a lot for them to even make that call. So I've got to take that moment and make good use of it."

"CVN was established to fill gaps in care that exist in military communities across the country. We are a nonprofit, integrated mental health system, exclusive for the military community, which includes Veterans, Active duty, National Guard Reserves and of course their family members."

"We're so proud of the fact that half of the patients we serve are family members, so we're filling this gap in care as well for families. We've served 28,000 military to date and we're eager to save more lives, to save more families, and save more futures in Oceanside."

Homelessness is a big issue in Oceanside and a large percentage of our homeless are military or former military. Are your services set up to address the homeless issues among our military?

"Veterans Village of San Diego has a 40-year track record of providing services to homeless veterans. So this partnership was just really a match made in heaven." said Akilah Templeton. "We are a veteran-focused agency here in San Diego. We consider ourselves experts on the topic of military homelessness and while homeless individuals may not be the targeted population for CVN, we use a no wrong door approach. Certainly, a veteran who is struggling or may be at risk for homelessness, CVN is just one touch point. Our clinicians that come in contact with individuals that have those challenges are able to refer veterans to other programs in the area."

"That's the reason why the Cohen Veterans Network programs exist. There are many programs that are on the far end of the continuum. In other words, you have to be seriously persistently mentally ill, you have to be homeless down and out. You have to be in an emergency room to get attention and get the care, but what we want to do is get upstream on this problem."

"We really want to focus on the mild and moderate conditions and get upstream on all of this so that our Veterans, Military members and their families never end up homeless and desperate. But the beautiful thing is that our partner, VVSD, who operates our clinic is an expert and has the ability to treat veterans anywhere in their journey, which is fabulous."

So CVN sets up the clinic and then VVSD runs it. Is that an oversimplified explanation of how your programs work?

"Very good explanation. CVN gives VVSD and our other partners everything to operate a clinic at the highest level according to our standard operating procedures. We share the brand name. We fund them to deliver care the way we would like it to be delivered with the highest evidence. We provide training. We provide data analytics and electronic health records. VVSD is known and respected in the community and that's why we chose them to operate, not just the clinic, but in Oceanside and eventually in Los Angeles because of their local brands. So we believe community is important and we believe the scalable model that we bring has proven to be extremely effective."

You mentioned that the clinics will offer brief client-centered therapy. Can you go into more detail about what that means?

"That means that a person who is coming in has a particular challenge that would likely benefit from a short-term evidence intervention that helps them to deal with the problem as it is happening, but also equips them with coping strategies and tools they can use."

"Our average length for a client is 10 sessions across the entire network of 20 clinics. So our patients come in, they get the support they need when they need it. They get routine care, routine evidence-based care for depression, anxiety, PTSD, marital, whatever the situation, our belief is that they're going to be stronger and they're going to be better."

"This approach is much better than hanging onto people forever because then you don't have enough room at the front for new patients. So the way we're able to provide accessible care as we get people in, we get them what they need, they're feeling better and we challenge them to go out and practice what we've just shared with them. That allows us to have better access upfront."

"Most of the folks that we see benefit from that short-term therapy model. One thing that's unique about our clinic's model is we have a case manager that makes sure that when they have other things that get in the way like financial assistance or housing or other services like employment. We have someone in the clinic who can help work with them on those things outside of the therapy session."

"All of our CVN clinics have a community room that is really a community. It's a room about 1000 square feet where we host events. We have educational things like parenting and stress management. We have room for meetings. So we want the clinic to not only be a place for clinical care, but a place for convening, a place for positive and preventative activities. Because we believe that the more we can get people circling through the clinic, the more trusted, the clinic will be the word of mouth will spread."

In San Diego, the community room has been fantastic during Covid. We sort of took that concept
outdoors and put on events. So CVN is very much about staying connected to the community, we recognize that word of mouth is our largest referral source here in San Diego. So many of the folks that come to receive services at our local clinics were referred by someone who has also received services or by someone that they know."

"While we will not offer in person for the soft launch in March, but we will begin seeing clients via telehealth. We're able to give more people access to care even when we can't do face to face. In addition to providing care to those within reach of the Oceanside location, the new Cohen Clinics will also offer telehealth services state-wide to more than 655,000 potential clients. CVN Telehealth is face-to-face video therapy where the client can receive treatment from the privacy
and comfort of their own home."

"The ability to provide telehealth services is critical and a game changer, especially in southern California where we have seen the number of COVID-19 cases rise significantly in recent months. Telehealth provides a great option for veterans, service members and their families who want to stay connected to a trusted provider, regardless of location. Our partnership with CVN has helped to expand our reach and build out VVSD's continuum of care so that the entire military family has access to high-quality outpatient mental health services and supports for years to come."

"We hope to have the brick and mortar location operating by the end of summer. Otherwise, we are currently accepting referrals and we're ready to go for the opening in March."

About Cohen Veterans Network: Cohen Veterans Network (CVN) is a 501(c)(3) national not-for-profit philanthropic organization for post-9/11 veterans, active duty service members and their
families. CVN focuses on improving mental health outcomes, operating a network of outpatient mental health clinics in high-need communities, in which trained clinicians deliver holistic evidence-based care to treat mental health conditions. It was established in 2016 by philanthropist Steven A. Cohen with a commitment of $275 million to build the network. Learn more about CVN.

About VVSD: Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) has served all veterans since 1981 and is dedicated to "Leave No One Behind." Each year, VVSD provides services to more than 3,000 military veterans throughout San Diego County. For more information, please visit our website at

This article originally appeared on the Oceanside-Camp Pendleton Patch