The ninth annual Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Psychology Leadership Conference, April 28-30 in Dallas, drew the largest number of attendees to date: More than 130 VA psychologists met under the theme of "New Models of VA Health Care: Psychology Leadership at its Best" to discuss ways to broaden veterans' services and how to position new VA psychology leaders.
APA President Gerald P. Koocher, PhD, and APA Executive Director for Professional Practice Russ Newman, JD, PhD, each presented a keynote address at the meeting. Koocher spoke about his work with families who are dealing with grief and bereavement over the loss of a child and how those interventions can be used with families of the nation's veterans. Newman discussed behavioral factors' importance in U.S. health care, the refocus on quality and the increasing role of technology in what has become essentially a market-driven delivery system.
Other speakers included early-career psychologist John Otis, PhD, of the VA Boston Healthcare System, who spoke about the need for more treatment options for the many veterans who have both chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. Treating these patients is complex, he noted, because the conditions' interaction can negatively impact treatment of either disorder. Along with VA psychologist Terence M. Keane, PhD, Otis has begun to address this challenge; he shared details about an integrated treatment approach using cognitive-behavioral therapy that they are pilot-testing with veterans.
Another early-career psychologist, Kendra Weaver, PsyD, shared how she has worked her way up through the VA health-care system to her current post as mental health services manager of Veterans Integrated Service Network 9, the VA section that covers care in Tennessee, most of Kentucky and parts of West Virginia and Mississippi. Weaver discussed the challenges of VA leadership and the importance of good mentoring to those seeking top VA jobs.
The annual meeting is co-sponsored by APA's Div. 18 (Psychologists in Public Service), APA's Practice Directorate and the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders.