Upfront

Positive psychology founder Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD, and noted post-traumatic stress disorder researcher Patricia Resick, PhD, are members of a new panel helping the Defense Health Board comprehensively examine psychological health within the Department of Defense.

Called the Psychological Health External Advisory Subcommittee, the panel will report to the Defense Health Board, a group of independent experts advising the secretary of defense on health-care delivery, research and promotion to service members and their families.

The subcommittee's work is important, because while physical wounds have been successfully treated, the psychological wounds of combat sustained by service members in Iraq and Afghanistan need to be addressed, says Defense Health Board member Robert G. Certain.

"I think we can address it much more quickly with this new generation then we did with World War II or Korea or Vietnam," says Certain, a subcommittee member and Air Force veteran.

At the subcommittee's first meeting in October, members preliminarily identified four key areas to focus their analysis, says interim chair Charles Fogelman, PhD, a psychologist and executive coach. Those areas are:

  • The delivery of clinical care and prevention efforts.

  • The promotion of resilience, strength building and coping skills among deployed service members and their families.

  • The state of research in both basic science and clinical applications.

  • Redundancy and overlap in service delivery.

In addition to Fogelman, Seligman and Resick, psychologists on the 19-member subcommittee include James Quick, PhD, distinguished professor at the Goolsby Leadership Academy at the University of Texas at Arlington; John Fairbank, PhD, an associate professor of medical psychology at Duke University and a founding member of the Academy for Research on Traumatic Stress; and Brett Litz, PhD, a professor in Boston University's School of Medicine and psychology department, and associate director of the Behavioral Sciences Division of the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

—C. Munsey