Penn clinic offers free mental health care for veterans and families

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA (WPVI) -- Most veterans can't wait to get home from the war front.

However, making that transition back to civilian life isn't easy for the former service member or the family.

That's where the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Penn tries to help.

It offers no-cost behavioral health care to veterans and their family members.

"We define a veteran as anyone who wore the uniform for one day, including those who served in the National Guard and Reserves, and are offered regardless of role in the military or discharge status," says Pete Freudenberger, LSW, the clinic's outreach coordinator.

Freudenberger says the vet also doesn't need to be engaged in caring for the family to receive services.

U.S. Army Sergeant Kyle White was among the bravest of the brave in America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has received the Medal of Honor for battlefield valor, the nation's highest honor.

Still, he struggled with his mental health when he returned home.

"When I returned from Afghanistan, I realized that something was wrong. I didn't feel like myself," White said.

He was having post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.

It can happen to anyone who has had a traumatic experience, on or off the battlefield.

Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, or uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

White got treatment quickly, and it helped him cope with the PTSD and establish his life after military service.

In the end, he realized that getting the mental health treatment wasn't a sign of failure, but of strength, of willingness to face life's challenges.

Now, he works with the Cohen Veterans network, urging other vets and their families to seek professional help.

The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Penn offers services, such as talk therapy for individual veterans, military family members, children, and couples, as well as medication management and supportive case management services.

It also offers referral support related to unemployment, housing, finance, and education, and provides resources such as transportation assistance to patients.

Clinic staff says, "We encourage veterans and/or their family members should reach out anytime they feel something isn't right. While everyone is different, people often notice difficulty sleeping, not feeling like themselves, feeling irritable or stressed more easily, difficulty concentrating, or not feeling as connected with others."

The clinic's direct scheduling line is 844-573-3146.

They can also be reached by email at, as well as Facebook (MFCPenn) and Twitter (@MFCPenn).

Walk-ins are always welcome!

White now says, "I don't know what life would look like for me and my family if I didn't get help."