The Cohen Veteran’s Network in Tampa, Florida will soon add another clinic to its ranks thanks to a “hedge fund tycoon.”
Veterans in the Tampa area will soon have another option for mental and behavioral health treatment, as the Cohen Veterans Network plans to open a new clinic by March.
The clinic, according to The Tampa Bay Times, is funded by “hedge fund tycoon” Steven A. Cohen. This will be the network’s 12th such clinic, and the concept behind them is to fill in the areas of mental and behavioral health that the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t reach.
This, according to the Times, will include services for veterans with “less than honorable” discharges as well as members of their families.
The clinic is expected to serve about 500 patients in the first year of operation. To start, the clinic will be funded with $8 million in seed money, the Times states. The network covered the costs for the clinic buildout and the first three years of operation. By the six-year mark, clinic officials are required to have raised 50% of the operating costs.
While both the American Veterans (AMVETS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs have expressed support, others aren’t so convinced. Marvin Southard, who was CEO of the Cohen Veterans Network’s first clinic at the University of Southern California, tells the Times that the clinics avoided treating more difficult patients for “commercial reasons.”
“Both USC and NYU had problems with the Cohen program,” Southard said.
Southard added that he feels “that what is required in a veteran-heavy locality like Tampa is a true convener organization or person who could bring the veterans service community together as collaborators rather than as competitors. I had hoped that the Cohen project could have served that role, but in Los Angeles, at least, they were inclined to do the opposite.”
However, Anthony Hassan, the Cohen Veterans Network CEO and president, says the clinic’s mission is to simply fill the gaps in care. He says that since the first clinic opened in 2016, more than 8,600 patients have been treated through the network, and about half of those were non-veteran family members who were not eligible for treatment from the VA.
According to the Times, US Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Trinity), who is the vice chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, is giving the clinics the benefit of the doubt.
“Any entity serving the veteran community … should be held accountable for meeting the highest standard of care,” his spokesperson, Summer Robertson, told the Times via email. “If the Cohen Network helps meet an unmet need by providing mental health services in the Tampa area, that could potentially be a good option for some veterans.”
Like the other clinics, Hassan tells the Times that the Tampa clinic will work with the VA and other local services to find patients needing care. He also says the clinics are not a method of privatizing care or profit-making.