DENVER (AP) — Two civilian initiatives are coming to Colorado to help veterans and their families deal with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress and other problems, the University of Colorado said Friday.
A five-year, $38 million gift from the Marcus Foundation will create the Marcus Institute for Brain Health at the university’s Anschutz Medical Campus in the Denver suburb of Aurora, helping veterans manage the lingering effects of service-related concussions.
The foundation, based in Atlanta, was established by Bernard Marcus, co-founder of the Home Depot.
The university also announced it will work with the Cohen Veterans Network to establish a mental health clinic for Denver-area veterans and their families. The Cohen Network committed $9.8 million over three years for the clinic.
The network was started by hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen.
Both programs are separate from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which is building a $1.7 billion medical center less than a mile from the Anschutz Medical Campus in the Denver suburb of Aurora.
A PTSD treatment center was part of the original plan for the VA hospital but it was cut from the first phase because the overall project ran far over budget.
Officials of the new civilian programs said they will complement VA services and fill some gaps. Both will offer care to veterans who ineligible for VA services because they received other-than-honorable discharges.
The Marcus Institute will treat up to 400 veterans a year using traditional and alternative medicine, said Dr. James Kelly, executive director of the institute.
“The idea would be to blend very advanced, very high-tech medical care with complementary and alternative medical methods such as acupuncture and breathing techniques and relaxation and therapeutic massage, a whole variety of things that we’ve found useful,” he said.
Kelly, a neurologist, led the Defense Department’s National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for seven years. The center treats active-duty servicemen and women with traumatic brain injuries and psychological health conditions.
Veterans will not be charged anything for participating, even if they do not have insurance, Kelly said.
The institute will have about 30 doctors, psychologists and physical therapists when it reaches full strength next year. It will use existing facilities at the Anschutz campus.
The Marcus Foundation hopes the institute will be a model for similar programs elsewhere.
The Cohen Military Family Clinic will be one of 25 around the nation. It will provide free or low-cost mental health care to veterans and their families and will be located about 2 ½ miles (4 kilometers) from the Anschutz campus.
It will offer treatment for post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, marital problems, children’s behavioral health and related issues, said Anthony Hassan, president and CEO of the Cohen Veterans Network. It will focus on post-9/11 veterans but others will be considered if services are available.
Hassan said treating all veterans regardless of their discharge status is part of the Cohen Network’s mission.
“Many men and women are being discharged for behavior problems or drug abuse problems,” Hassan said. “Any veteran who served one day on active duty, regardless of discharge, is worthy of care in our clinics.”
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