Speaking of Education

We are pleased to be collaborating with the White House on the Joining Forces initiative, spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. The initiative's goal is to mobilize resources and support for military members and their families in the areas of employment, education and wellness.

APA has a long-standing commitment to supporting military service members, veterans and their families through training and workforce development, advocacy and many other initiatives.

By collaborating with the White House on this project, APA's Board of Educational Affairs, along with the Council of Chairs of Training Councils, has pledged to ensure that psychologists are trained to provide evidence-based, culturally competent services to service members and their families. We are also committed to improving the public's understanding of psychology to help prevent the stigma associated with seeking treatment.

In May, we forwarded a letter from the White House to our professional education and training programs asking for their commitment to one or more activities in support of these goals. There are already more than 100 registered programs.

We also sponsored a webinar on military culture for education and training programs and their students. More than 650 attended the webinar to hear national expert Dr. David Riggs of the Center for Deployment Psychology, a Department of Defense unit established in 2006 that was initiated by APA. The company that hosts our continuing education products, BizVision, is making this webinar accessible for free until the end of the year.

Our initial focus in the Joining Forces initiative has been on preparing the psychology workforce to deal with challenges facing the military and veteran communities, including post-deployment reintegration, post-traumatic stress disorder, post-combat depression, the psychological sequelae of traumatic brain injury, family adjustment and other behavioral concerns. Psychologists have been leaders in developing treatments and implementing services specific to these needs, but our potential for contribution is not confined to clinical services and research.

Psychologists as educators and consultants to educational systems can also make important contributions to the Joining Forces initiative. We are deeply involved in training other health professions, especially physicians, nurses and counselors. In fact, the Center for Deployment Psychology's mission is to serve multiple professions, not only psychology. Our teaching faculty are also well positioned to educate the public about coping, PTSD and stigma in seeking mental health services. Since high school psychology is rapidly expanding and psychology remains one of the most popular undergraduate majors, psychology's teaching activities on associated areas of national need help us meet our mission to serve the public welfare. In addition, our nation's schools themselves will be served by an initiative under way by the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs. Under the leadership of Dr. Pamela Fenning, this council is developing practical resources and strategies for K–12 schools to focus on academic and mental health needs of military children.

APA's point person for the Joining Forces initiative is Dr. Diane Elmore, associate executive director of APA's Public Interest Directorate's Government Relations Office and coordinator of military and veterans activities for the association.

Please consider joining forces with us in this important work. To register your program's participation and to be listed in the roster of partners, go to Survey Gizmo.