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Penn Medicine Helping Military Members, Vets Cope With Mental Health Problems

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Helping veterans and active-duty members of the military cope with a mental health problem is often difficult because many service members are reluctant to talk about it.

Being in the military can trigger a variety of mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Help is available at the Veterans Administration, and now there's a private center at Penn Medicine.

The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic provides free behavioral health care to veterans and their family members.

Army National Guard member Darcel Rideout adores her 2-year-old son, but his birth triggered a period of postpartum depression for her.

"I would have very dark thoughts, sometimes I would have violent thoughts," said Rideout. "I would sit in my room in the dark and I would have thoughts of suicide, I would have thoughts of harming other people."

The former weapons instructor said she had difficulty getting through her training sessions.

"This is a very stressful job being in the military, especially when you are in the National Guard because you have to be a civilian and a soldier," said Rideout.

Three months ago, Rideoutl came to the Cohen Military Family Clinic where she received medications and cognitive behavioral therapy from Joanna Goldstein, who is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist.

"Once she could identify the distortions in her thinking it gave her an opportunity to be able to view situations in a different way which changed how she felt, which changed the way she responded to those stressors in her life," explains Goldstein.

Military personnel, especially those in combat situations, often suffer with a variety of mental health problems.

"Veterans come in with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety," said Goldstein. "I'd say those are the three biggest concerns."

"Now that I have a way to cope and now that I'm more educated I can deal with anything coming my way," said Rideout.

The 27-year-old woman says the therapy has turned her life around.

"I'm feeling great," she said with a big smile.

Rideout says a lot of her fellow military members struggle with mental health issues and often feel trapped not knowing about treatment options or they are fearful about asking for help.

The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Penn Medicine offers free counseling to vets and their family members which includes therapy for children and couples.


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