Military veterans in Southwest Oklahoma will have easier access to mental health care with the opening of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic in Lawton.
The new clinic held a grand opening ceremony Thursday at 4202 SW Lee, building B.
The clinic provides mental health and case management services to military veterans, active-duty soldiers and their families, with a focus on veterans who served post-9/11. It is one of a national network of clinic opened and operated by the Cohen Veterans Network (CVN).
Governor Kevin Stitt, Cohen Veterans Network CEO Anthony Hassan, Red Rock Behavioral Health Services CEO Verna Foust and Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts attended the ceremony, together with representatives from the Lawton area.
Both Hassan and Pitts have connections to the Lawton-Fort Sill community. Pitts trained at Fort Sill before being assigned to the 319th Field Artillery Regiment in Vicenza, Italy, and Hassan served in the 212th Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Sill and attended Cameron University.
“I’ve had a lot of beginnings here,” Hassan said.
The ceremony began with speeches from Stitt, Hassan, Foust, Pitts and Lawton Mayor Stan Booker.
Pitts’ speech was particularly well-received, with standing ovation before and after he spoke. He spoke about his path to seeking mental health care.
“I can’t tell you how hard that call was for me,” Pitts said. “How hard it was for the mental image I had of what strength was. That first call was one of the hardest things I’d ever done, but my biggest regret was that I waited so long.”
The Lawton clinic opened in October 2020, seeing patients via telehealth calls only due to COVID. They started seeing patients in person in May, but still see about half their patients through telehealth.
Foust said that the need for mental health providers like the Lawton clinic has increased.
“Just within Red Rock,” Foust said. “Our crisis calls have increased 45 percent. I’ve worked in community mental health for 30 years, and I’ve never seen the need for services like it is now.”
After the speeches, members of the Comanche County Chamber of Commerce took the stage for a ribbon cutting. The ceremony concluded with a tour of the clinic.
For more information on the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic, call 771-2662.