American Psychological Association FY 2009 Congressional Appropriations Request: The Center for Deployment Psychology

Request: Provide $5 million in the FY 2009 Defense Appropriations bill (Defense Health Program, R,D,T&E Account, PE 0603115HP) for the Defense Graduate Psychology Education Program, Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS).


 
The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) is a new tri-service training consortium designed to better prepare for unmet mental and behavioral health needs of service members returning from combat and operational environments and of their families. The Center, housed at the USUHS, is the coordinating center for a network of military internship training sites at 10 regional Department of Defense health facilities nationwide to train military and civilian psychologists (and eventually other health professionals). Congress funded the program at $3.4 million for FY 2006, $2.9 million for FY 2007 and $1 million for FY 2008.

The vision for the Center was recently validated in the Report of the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health. The 2007 report highlighted the Center for Deployment Psychology as "an excellent example" of the kind of program needed to address training needs in light of the current war:

"This tri-Service center is a resource and a best practice model that illustrates how collaboration among the Services can result in high-quality training material that enhances the care provided to service members and their families. Development of high-quality training materials can be accomplished through collaboration with each of the Services and the DOD Center for Deployment Psychology."

Similarly, the so-called "Dole-Shalala Commission," in its Subcommittee Report of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors, recognized the Center for Deployment Psychology as an innovative model--one of only four resources listed. In addition, the Center has been flooded with requests from around the nation for assistance in preparing military and civilian psychologists to assist returning servicemen and women. Such requests have included law enforcement departments with large numbers of Reservists and National Guardsmen recently returned from the war theater.

The request of $5 million in FY 2009 would provide funding for the Center's core training services and allow implementation of its planned research agenda. This includes funds to: (1) continue the base program of training activities currently supported by the CDP; (2) create mobile training teams that will allow expanded training for military and civilian psychologists, including VA psychologists and other health providers; (3) initiate the use of teleconferences, online learning and webcasts and increase web access for disseminating information to military personnel and their families; and (4) support research activities to expand our knowledge of the psychological and emotional impact of deployment and evaluate the impact of CDP programs.

The Critical Need for Mental & Behavioral Health Services For Returning U.S. Military Personnel

 

  • Thousands of returning military personnel are struggling with mental health issues. These problems include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, and unemployment.

  • One in five active duty soldiers and two in five reserve component soldiers were identified as requiring mental health treatment. These numbers represent an increase in mental health concerns during the three to six months after return from deployment over their immediate return according to a study by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. (2007)

  • Approximately one-third of Iraqi Veterans accessed mental health services in their first year after deployment. Furthermore, increasing usage rates of mental health care services by the military population provides further evidence that the war is burdening the health care system at large. In addition, there are increased challenges in guaranteeing that current staffing levels of mental health services will be sufficient to meet the needs of returning soldiers.

  • Soldiers who had at least one prior deployment to Iraq reported significantly higher levels of acute stress than those on their first deployment. Additionally, deployment length was related to higher rates of mental health problems, as well as marital difficulties, according to a survey conducted by the Mental Health Advisory Team IV through the Multinational Force in Iraq. (2006)

  • Many seriously wounded soldiers also suffer tremendous psychological problems. Soldiers who are severely medically injured in combat (e.g., loss of limb, loss of vision, head injury, disfigurement, etc.) often have related mental health needs.

  • Returning service members are often located in remote areas where easy access to established resources may not exist. As a result, these service members' mental health needs may then go unmet, or they must seek care through civilian providers who often have limited to no experience in treating such a population.

  • Soldiers deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) have a higher suicide rate than the Army population - 16.1 (OIF) versus 11.6 soldier suicides per 100,000. Furthermore, the current suicide prevention training is not designed for a combat/deployed environment according to a survey conducted by the Mental Health Advisory Team IV through the Multinational Force in Iraq. (2006)

  • Incidences of suicide or attempted suicide have increased since the start of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to the U.S. Army, the number who tried to commit suicide or injured themselves for some other reason jumped six-fold in the last several years -from 350 in 2002 to about 2,100 incidents last year. (2008)

  • A growing number of veterans are suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 15% of the soldiers surveyed reported an injury during deployment that involved loss of consciousness or altered mental status, defined as mild traumatic brain injury. Symptoms of TBI share some of the same symptoms as PTSD (e.g., difficulty concentrating, memory problems and irritability); however, TBI symptoms can also include headaches, dizziness and balance problems. A well trained workforce is critical to evaluate and treat the sheer number expected to seek treatment for these symptoms months after returning from deployment. (2008)