New clinic offers free mental health services for veterans, families

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Photo: Jerry Lara /San Antonio Express-News

Matthew Dennison last walked off the distant battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan eight years ago. War still refuses to let him come home.

The Army veteran saw a close friend lose both his legs above the knee when a roadside bomb ripped apart their armored truck in Baghdad in 2007. During two tours in Iraq, Dennison twice suffered concussions in other explosions, and he spent his last deployment, in Afghanistan in 2008, unloading wounded and dying troops from medevac helicopters.

As he struggles to tame the dark memories that seize his thoughts and rupture his sleep, he wonders when his mind will return from the past.

“I don’t know how to deal with my reactions,” said Dennison, 34, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress hire vetsdisorder. “I want to have ways to cope.”

His search for treatment brought the Boston resident to San Antonio three weeks ago for counseling at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic. The new center on the Northwest Side provides free mental health care to veterans and their dependents, with treatment starting within five days of an initial screening and typically lasting 12 to 14 weeks.

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