A Packed Room for San Francisco’s Education Advocacy Breakfast Meeting on the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP)

Despite competing convention schedules, APA Members filled the Education Advocacy Breakfast to hear about the latest education advocacy victories and successes. In fact, the education breakfast meeting has become an annual event for APA Presidents, Board Members, members of the Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators (FEDAC) team, and leaders from the psychology education and training community.

Nina Levitt, Ed.D, Associate Executive Director for Government Relations for the APA Education Directorate, opened the breakfast by welcoming the early risers and thanking them for their continued support. She then urged everyone who was not already a member of the education advocacy team to join by signing up to become a Campus Training Representative (CTR) for the FEDAC network and encouraged everyone to become a member of the Education Advocacy Trust.

Dr. Cynthia Belar, Executive Director for the APA Education Directorate, next acknowledged the many guests including Board of Directors members, BEA members, Division Presidents/Presidents-Elect/Past Presidents, FEDACs and CTRs, and introduced BEA member Dr. Martha Christiansen. Dr. Christiansen had the honor of presenting the Education Advocacy Distinguished Service Award to 2006 recipient Dr. Greg Keilin and 2007 recipient Dr. Nick Andonov. Dr. Christiansen acknowledged both Dr. Keilin and Dr. Andonov’s efforts to promote the importance of advocacy for psychology and their individual advocacy efforts.

Following the presentation of the awards, the program focused on the APA-initiated program, the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP). Speakers, Col. Bruce Crow, Psy.D., Chief, Department of Behavioral Medicine Brooke Army Medical Center San Antonio, Texas, Clinical Psychology Consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General and David S. Riggs, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Center for Deployment Psychology, Research Associate Professor of Medical & Clinical Psychology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences addressed the members in attendance on the CDP, which was developed to promote the education of psychologists and other behavioral health specialists about issues pertaining to the deployment of military personnel. Col. Crow, who was instrumental in the establishment of the CDP, discussed his efforts establish this successful national program. Dr. Riggs discussed his and his staff’s efforts in developing the CDP, including the formulation of curriculum and training for psychologists nation wide.

Crow said the evolving nature of war has forced the military to move away from having military members serve in protracted campaigns; these days, service members have more expeditionary roles, with shorter, more frequent deployments. This reorientation brought with it a host of psychological unknowns, Crow said.

“We realized that there was much to learn about the stressors and psychological factors associated with living through cycles of deployment to combat, return from deployment, and preparation for future deployment” Crow said.

Crow also stressed that there are positive developments that occur, too. People undergo a lot of personal growth and maturity in these campaigns, which presents another area for looking into, he said.

In April 2006, a committee of military personnel and civilian psychologists set up the CDP and selected psychologist David Riggs, PhD, as the center’s executive director. Prior to this appointment, Riggs instructed professionals in how to treat PTSD in survivors of international terror attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as well as military trauma and sexual assault.

At the session, Riggs noted that future topics for CDP education will include increasing outreach to the community through Internet resources to help psychologists serve the friends and families of those deployed and developing an easily accessible knowledge base for psychologists on specific therapeutic strategies.