At the eighth annual Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Psychology Leadership Conference, April 29-30 in Dallas, VA psychologists and top VA and APA officials met to discuss ways to promote improved psychological services for veterans, including those who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Illustrating this year's conference theme, "Strong leadership in uncertain times," top officials including VA Deputy Secretary Gordon Mansfield and VA Under Secretary for Health Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD--who received word while at the convention that the Senate confirmed him for a four-year term in the position--discussed mental health care's future at the VA.
Among the APA officials who spoke at the conference were Russ Newman, PhD, JD, APA's executive director for professional practice, former APA President Pat DeLeon, PhD, JD, and current APA President Ronald F. Levant, EdD.
Newman talked about psychologists' broader roles as experts in health and behavior, as well as "strategic resilience" as a model for VA psychology to remain viable in uncertain times. He noted that, by anticipating changes and taking advantage of trends and opportunities to make incremental changes, psychologists can be instrumental in creating future roles in the system, rather than just responding to dramatic reorganizations or upheavals.
DeLeon spoke of the current market realities of the health-care system and challenged VA psychologists to be responsive to those realities. Levant discussed his presidential initiative on health care for the whole person. Fred Frese, PhD, represented the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill National Board of Directors on a panel about psychosocial rehabilitation models for severely mentally ill veterans.
APA's Div. 18 (Psychologists in Public Service), APA's Practice Directorate and the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders co-sponsored the annual meeting.