Clinic for veteran mental health opens in Colorado Springs
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A new clinic aimed at helping the mental health of active duty service members, veterans and their families is now open in Colorado Springs.
The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Red Rock held their grand opening ceremony Tuesday afternoon. The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Governor Jared Polis and Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts, as well as staff from the Cohen Veteran Network, Red Rock Behavioral Health, and other service members and vets.
Pitts serves as an ambassador of the Cohen Veteran Network. That means he helps fellow veterans make that first step to seeking help.
“As soon as you don’t feel good, think about it, pick up the phone and go call,” Pitts said. “You would do the same thing with your doctor, if you had something ailing you, a nagging injury for a while, you pick up the phone and go do it.”
A huge part of helping vets take that step, he said, is to de-stigmatize the idea of seeking help. Many veterans, he said, are taught to just push through any problem themselves. But Pitts draws from another important lesson as a vet: working as a team.
Pitts said when he got out of the military, he felt himself changing. His wife knew he was different. But he said he wouldn’t seek help because it broke down the image he had of himself as a man who has endured tremendous amounts of pain. But he said he realized that he couldn’t move forward by himself.
“It’s the first thing you learn when you join: we don’t go anywhere by yourself,” Pitts said. “You do everything as part of a team. You need to take care of yourself, and some things, you can;t do by yourself.”
Lt. Col. Jason Harris, an active duty service member with the Air Force, echoed Pitts’ sentiment when he spoke about his own experience at the clinic’s opening. He spoke on the way trauma will stick with you, and how it can be detrimental if you don’t seek help.
“You don’t forget every time you take a casket and you slide it in, and you slide it out of that C-130,” Harris said, referring to the transport of the bodies of fallen service members. “And you don’t forget the voices, the crying of that young person who’s 18, 19 years old, is younger than you, and they’re clinging to their mother, because that’s all he has to hold on to.”
Continuing, he expressed gratitude for having a clinic run by CVN in Colorado Springs, saying he recognizes it as a resource to help those he has known that didn’t have access to such resources.
“You don’t forget the trauma of watching that special forces or that delta force operator who asked for shock therapy because he no longer can handle what he’s going through,” Harris continued. “For me, I’m grateful for this clinic being in the city, because I know for me, personally, this can be a resource for me. I know that it can be a resource for my friends and my fellow service members and fellow veterans.”
The clinic is aimed specifically toward helping post-9/11 veterans, active duty service members and their families. It’s in southeast Colorado Springs. You can visit their website for more information on making an appointment.
Copyright 2022 KKTV. All rights reserved.