Vision to Develop Nationally Resourced Skilled Mental Health Professionals to Serve Military Service Members, Veterans and their Families


First, I would like to recognize Veterans Day and all military service members who have served our country in uniform. As Director of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s (TCSPP) National Center for Research and Practice, Military and Veteran’s Psychology, and who has served in the army for 23 years, the Center’s charter is to conduct research, advocate, support, and assist those who have served our country and their families. For TCSPP, the National Center supports academic, campus and community veteran programs. 

The Chicago School recently received the 2013 Military Friendly School designation for the second year in the row. We currently serve 208 military students across all campuses in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Online. To support military students, TCSPP has formed three very active Military Psychology Student Associations run by students, who are very active in veteran community programs of their respective campuses. Throughout its 34-year history, TCSPP has contributed significantly to improving the mental health and well-being of our greater community and, in keeping with this tradition, TCSPP is increasing services to those who serve our nation.

A few of our current initiatives include organizing the Illinois Families of the Fallen Service Member Task Force to provide all day therapeutic events that bring together loved ones of falleservice members from across Chicago. We also started a groundbreaking program to provide therapeutic events to Illinois National Guard Members’ children during the reintegration process; and our faculty and students provide clinical services to the residents of the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans. In Southern California, faculty and students provide psychotherapeutic services for California service members in programs in Long Beach and Inglewood operated by United States Veterans Initiative by providing assessment and therapy services to those recently returned from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Washington D.C., TCSPP is currently developing innovative education programs to prepare the next generation of engaged professionals to treat service members and their families with exceptional care.

As many of you know, staggering national statistics depict the need to help veterans and their families who have served us. Due to the long duration of several wars on many fronts, the active duty (from all the services), Reserves, National Guard, and Veterans have endured over the years, however, the effects of the Global War on Terror have resulted in a rise in suicides, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), domestic violence, substance abuse, and other mental health issues. The system of care for psychological health that has evolved over recent decades is insufficient to meet the needs of today’s forces and their beneficiaries, and will not be sufficient to meet their needs in the future.

In my leadership role, my vision is to develop nationally resourced and skilled mental health professionals who are focused on the psychological health of the military, veterans, and their families, by enhancing the resilience training and research of practitioners across all services, and educating psychologists to provide the speedy recovery of service members and their families. All of this can be accomplished by adhering to the highest standards of compassion, commitment, excellence, professionalism, integrity, accountability, and stewardship.

There are three critical steps that need to be taken to ensure that veterans receive mental health services. Let’s begin with a culture of support for military psychological health, wherein all staff, faculty, researchers (and their partners), students, service members, veterans, and leaders will be educated to understand that military psychological health is essential to overall health and performance. Early and non-stigmatizing military psychological health assessments, research, and referrals to services will be professional.

Second, TCSPP’s staff, faculty, researchers (and their partners), students, service members, veterans, and leaders regardless of academic discipline is working to provide full continuum of excellent military mental health care to service members, veterans, and their families in both peacetime and wartime, particularly when service members have been injured or wounded in the course of duty.

And third, sufficient and appropriate resources will be allocated in the prevention, early intervention, research, education, and treatment in the active duty, reserve, National Guard, veteran, and military family programs, and will be distributed according to need.

Currently, The National Center’s research to support veterans includes national research projects. Currently, we are coordinating efforts with CommonHealth ACTION in a joint research project to identify the most effective national veteran community programs and projects.

In terms of academic training, TCSPP is currently developing a national military certificate program to be launched in fall 2014. The coursework is designed to introduce and integrate practitioners to the veteran culture.

If you would like to serve and contribute to The National Center’s research or community programs, veterans, military currently serving in uniform, and their families, you can contact me anytime at (785) 505-1935.

Eric Morrison, Ph.D. served in the United States Army for 23 years, stationed in Panama, Honduras, Germany, Bosnia, Hungary, and South Korea. He was a senior instructor, developed curriculum, and advised aerospace engineers on instruction at Johnson Space Center, NASA. Dr. Morrison also worked with the Japanese, Canadian, European, and Russian International Space Agencies on Astronaut and Flight Controller Instruction/Educational Psychology. He currently teaches International and U.S. Field Grade Military Officers Leadership, Critical Thinking, and Sustainment at the Command and General Staff College.

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