Government Relations Update
APA's advocacy on behalf of service members and their families is continuing to pay off: In recognition of the critical mental and behavioral health training offered by the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP), the Department of Defense has incorporated the center into its own programs, a move that gives the CDP permanent status.
The CDP, which trains psychologists, psychology interns and residents, and other health professionals in deployment psychology and how to best provide services for service members and their families, is now part of the DoD's Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.
"This development reinforces that the DoD recognizes the critical importance of training the health-care work force to provide high-quality services to veterans and their families," says APA Executive Director for Education Cynthia Belar, PhD, who along with her staff was instrumental in establishing the center.
Making the CDP an integral part of DoD increases its institutional support, where previously it has been dependent upon APA's advocacy to secure its funding, she added.
Since its 2006 launch, the CDP has trained more than 700 military personnel and civilians at its headquarters at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., and at military medical centers nationwide. CDP Executive Director David S. Riggs, PhD, says the integration of the CDP into the Center of Excellence will allow for closer cooperation and collaboration with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, the Deployment Health Clinical Center and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress. Moving the CDP facilitates the integration of training, research and service delivery, which is critical to improving health care for returning military personnel.
The CDP came to life when APA member Herbert Goldstein, PhD, successfully convinced Rep. C.W. Young (R-Fla.) to fund the center. The CDP's role in addressing the mental and behavioral health needs of returning military personnel and their families has been underscored in a number of recent governmental reports including "An Achievable Vision: Report of the DoD Mental Health Task Force" and by the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors.
Those who have participated in the training also laud its scope. "The training and experiences gained through the CDP would be impossible to gain anywhere else," says Leo J. Shea III, PhD, clinical assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at Rusk Institute in New York, a civilian who participated in a two-week training program in January. "It was both intense and intensive and extremely insightful into the workings of the military mind."
An ultimate goal of the program is to develop a knowledge base of the best ways to address deployment-related problems among military personnel and their families.
"Incorporating the CDP into the new Center of Excellence in Bethesda is a most welcome development," says Young. "It will ensure that the CDP continues its vital role in addressing the mental health needs of our servicemen and -women for years to come."
Emily Rath is a legislative and federal affairs associate in APA's Education Policy Office.
For more information on the Center for Deployment Psychology, including a schedule of upcoming training seminars and workshops, visit www.deploymentpsych.org.