President's Column

One of my presidential initiatives is ensuring that psychologists are in the forefront in providing services to military personnel, veterans and their families, as well as military members who have experienced military sexual trauma. To implement this initiative, I am devoting 20 hours of programming at APA's 2013 Annual Convention in Honolulu to evidence-based practices in assessing and treating these populations.

That is but one small effort in which APA is supporting our nation's military service members, veterans and their families. Here are a few more of the association's many efforts in the area:

Collaborating with the White House Joining Forces initiative. This effort mobilizes all of society to support service members, veterans and their families. In 2012, APA was among the organizations First Lady Michelle Obama invited to a White House meeting to discuss how providers can support the psychological and neurological needs of these groups.

Pledging our support. Last March, APA worked with the Council of Chairs of Training Councils and the APA Board of Educational Affairs to adopt a statement recognizing the sacrifices of our country's service members, veterans and their families, and highlighting the essential role that psychology plays in promoting their health and wellness. The statement also affirmed psychology's commitment to preparing current and future practitioners to provide evidence-based, culturally competent services to the military community and to advance scientific knowledge, promote health and train other health professionals in deployment mental health. To date, more than 100 psychology education and training programs have pledged their support of this commitment. Two sections of APA's website assist programs in meeting that pledge. See White House Joining Forces Initiative and Mental Health and Related Resources for Assisting Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families.

Advocating on behalf of the military and veteran communites. Each year, APA works with Congress and federal agencies to share scientific and clinical knowledge and to develop, draft and modify legislative and regulatory proposals focused on military and veterans issues. APA has testified before Congress on such topics as suicide prevention, funding for psychological research and building bridges between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and community organizations that support veterans and their families. APA's research advocacy is an essential priority, with APA actively urging Congress to fund research within the Department of Defense (DOD) and the VA in areas ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to human-systems interface.

Training psychologists to meet the needs of the military community. Several years ago, APA collaborated with a team of military psychologists to create the Center for Deployment Psychology. The center offers education and training programs for mental health providers. To date, the center has trained thousands of military and civilian mental health professionals on issues including military cultural awareness and deployment stress. View the center's website.

Preventing suicides. APA is collaborating with the University of Utah's National Center for Veterans Studies on a military personnel and veterans suicide prevention initiative. This effort has brought together a group of national experts, including DOD and VA partners, to identify best practices for assessing and treating suicide risk among military personnel and veterans. The group is developing recommendations useful to all health-care systems that serve these populations.

Teaming up with others. In addition to APA's strong collaboration with the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders and the co-hosting of the Annual VA Psychology Leadership Conference, APA works with a number of nonprofit organizations dedicated to military and veterans issues. Most prominent is Give an Hour, the organization founded by Barbara Van Dahlen, PhD, which has developed a national network of practitioners whose purpose is to meet the mental health needs of troops and families affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Space considerations limit a description of all the work APA does on behalf of our military personnel, veterans and families. For further information, contact APA's Diane Elmore, PhD, associate executive director of Public Interest Government Relations.