Division 19, Society of Military Psychology, asked the candidates for APA President the questions below.
Thank you so much for providing the opportunity to respond to the five important questions listed below. My hope is my answers will help the members of Division 19 have a good sense of our perspective on military psychology issues.
1. What is your knowledge of and experience with the military and military psychology?
Although I am not a military psychologist, I have learned about military psychology and the role of military psychologists through my relationships with colleagues and friends who are serving or have served as military psychologists. I recently joined Division 19 to better understand some of these issues. My father served in the Army in Japan, following the Korean War. My knowledge of the military has been largely shaped by the stories of his experiences.
2. If elected, what will you do to support and help advance military psychology?
Our desire is to form a large diverse organizational umbrella under which all psychologists bring their unique mixture of race, religion, cultural background, physical difference, sexual orientation, gender identity, political perspective, and theoretical orientation, united by our love of psychology and our agreed-upon strategic plan. We will strive to hear and respond to the voices of all psychologists including our military psychologists, meeting their needs, and helping them obtain the necessary resources to develop to their full potential. At the same time, we must use our understanding of humanity and our collective unity as psychologists to address the pain we are witness to each day, resulting from factors like the COVID pandemic, brutal racism, and the natural and human disasters we are witness to in Haiti and Afghanistan.
Military psychology is an important part of our organizational umbrella, with a critical mission outside our organization assisting our service men and women and their families as well as the military itself. Division 19 “members are military psychologists who serve diverse functions in settings including research activities, management, providing mental health services, teaching, consulting, work with Congressional committees, and advising senior military commands.” Our military psychologists obviously serve a vital function for our nation.
I am dedicated to uniting, protecting, and advocating for the needs of psychology and psychologists. We need to come together as an organization to advance our priorities and defend and protect our people. As a Federal Advocacy Coordinator, I have trained for over 15 years to be able to effectively utilize my advocacy skills and experiences to address the concerns of our psychologists, including the issues of our military psychologists. Advocacy is critically important to our success as psychologists and as a discipline, and our divisions like Division 19 need to inform our advocacy priorities. In addition to our internal “locking arms,” we need to look externally for partners to advance our priorities. I believe we need to continue to make the case for adequate funding to provide high quality services offered by psychologists in rural and underserved areas. We need to underscore to the federal government the essential nature of services provided by military psychologists, so the role of military psychologists is supported, continued, and enhanced.
Looking at Division 19’s advocacy priorities, I believe I would be a strong partner in advocacy for the issues of pay and benefits. I am very concerned about suicide and would be interested in partnering with Division 19 to further the reduction of the veteran suicide rate. I am a fierce advocate with those who may negatively judge gender diverse people for who they are. There is an ongoing threat to safe service by our transgender service people. I have worked in trauma as a psychologist and would be an ally to assist with advocacy to address trauma in the military. In addition to combat-related trauma, there is a high rate of sexual assault for female identified service people. I am a proponent of PsyPact and would support efforts to expand the number of participating states. Division 19 supports their students and early career psychologists, and I have encouraged the doctoral students I have trained to join APA and participate in leadership and advocacy. I have always been a champion for enhancing the role of doctoral students and early career psychologists in APA governance and on Council. I will continue to do so by specifically assuring that there are newly elected representatives on presidential initiatives and task forces.
3. Many Division 19 members continue to believe that APA’s leadership does not have their interests at heart; and some believe APA leadership holds antipathy towards the military and military psychologists. What do you propose to do to address these perceptions and potentially repair this perceived division between the APA and military psychology that continues to exist?
I certainly can understand the reason Division 19 members feel this way, given the history of the Independent Review (IR) and the impact of the IR on military psychology and psychologists. I know from my participation on the APA Board of Directors as a Member at Large and now an officer of the association, APA leadership has and is working very hard to repair the relationship between APA and military psychology. I am a proven leader and collaborator. I include, connect, and unify people, and I can mobilize others to correct injustice, build bridges, help heal our system, and create positive, timely impact. As President-Elect of APA, I will commit myself to working on changing these perceptions and assuring APA leadership protects and defends military psychologists in the same way other psychologists are protected and supported. I intend to create an informal network of advisors while serving as President, and I will seek to include a military psychologist in this network.
4. Division 19 is very professionally diverse with members across many subdisciplines of psychology who practice, research, educate and/or advocate within the military context. This includes healthcare and non-healthcare contexts and roles. Many of our non-clinician members believe they are not seen, heard and supported by APA and do not receive equivalent resourcing/benefits from their APA membership. If elected president, what will you do to make APA more inclusive for non-clinicians and to provide more equity in support and resources to non-clinicians?
This is an important concern of mine. A review of our website (diana4apa.com) will reveal the inclusion of several pillar focus areas, including a pillar entitled “Applied.” This pillar reflects the effort on the part of our campaign to underscore how strongly we feel the breadth and depth of psychology and psychologists needs to be included in APA. Non-clinician military roles in psychology need to be well-represented and taught in our educational systems to reflect the importance of the contribution of these various roles to our discipline and to provide a roadmap for the plethora of career choices that exist for our psychology students. Psychology would not exist without our scientific base on which we rely for the underpinnings of what is meaningful and important in our work as psychologists. We need to assure that our military scientists have the financial support they need to conduct their critically important research. Psychologists possess a large social-behavioral knowledge base with a foundation on research in science (scientist-practitioners). Science is foundational in practice, education, and improving the public welfare. I would advocate to assure adequate federal and state funding for applied psychological research. I would emphasize the critical importance of identifying military scientists of color and promoting them in their careers to assure there is inclusion and diversity in those researchers who study psychological science. Scientific study of human behavior plays a central role in the most challenging issues in society. Uplifting and supporting the growth of the research pipeline for diverse military psychologists, along with elevating the psychological subject matter experts on diversity and health disparity, should be a priority for APA.
5. Division 19 remains deeply distressed that the Hoffman Report remains on the APA website with no indication that it has been under review since April 2016. Omitting the fact that it remains under review leads members and the general public to erroneously believe that the Hoffman Report is a credible and accurate document, despite APA leadership’s awareness that it is fundamentally flawed and contains multiple and significant inaccuracies. The Hoffman Report continues to damage the Division 19 members named in the report, Division 19, and Association itself (e.g., legal damages for which APA are potentially liability increase each day it remains up). The report conveys an uninformed and deeply stigmatizing message regarding military psychology. It is discouraging, to say the least, for psychologists who have dedicated much of their professional lives in service to their Nation to feel so unsupported by their professional organization. What actions will you pursue if elected president to repair the damage to Division 19, our members and the Division 19-APA relationship created by the fundamentally flawed Hoffman Report? Would you support the removal of the Hoffman Report from the APA website? Why or why not?
One reason APA requested the IR was to take a hard look at our organization. As psychologists, part of what we do is to ask ourselves and our clients for this type of critical examination. This review is often part of an ongoing process of self-examination. However, this particular review has proved a complicated and difficult process for many of our members. Our APA Council has twice voted to leave the IR on the APA website, while adding significant material that is critical of the report, including contributions from Division 19. I would not support removing the IR from the website. However, I do support the military and value and respect military psychologists. As APA President-Elect, I am hopeful a future reconciliation process can occur which would include identifying action steps consistent with the desire of Council, while honoring the contributions of our military colleagues.