In this Issue
By Rebecca I. Porter, PhD
This is an important time for psychology in general and military psychology in particular. In the coming months and years, our efforts need to be directed at several facets of our profession. Whether we are spreading the word about the many benefits of military psychology, developing young psychologists’ interests in the clinical and research applications of military psychology, or furthering military psychology through research, peer-reviewed publications and clinical practice, military psychology has a vital role to play. As members of the Society for Military Psychology you are critical components in defining and shaping that role.
First, we need to continue to publicize what we do as military psychologists. In these times of fiscal constraints and diminishing budgets, our continued prominence depends on our membership informing the public, other psychologists and leaders affiliated with the military about what we do, how we contribute to a healthy military, how we impact advanced research, and, in a broader context, how we influence policymaking decisions. Military psychology has a laudable history of contributing to major decisions that inform our defense policy, personnel selection and psychological health care. Take every opportunity to remind people of that robust history.
We cannot be content, however, to rest on our past achievements. Rather, we must labor to define the future for successive generations of military psychologists charged with treating our warriors and their families. By mentoring young professionals and encouraging their interest in the field of military psychology, we ensure the compassionate and competent delivery of psychological health care. This year, we have expanded the number of student representatives to our executive committee—a bold step to develop the bench and advance our collective efforts. Individuals coming into this field represent vibrancy and a renewed spirit that can fuel our advancement and make military psychology an even more integral part of the larger field of psychology.
Perhaps most importantly, we need to maintain focus on the psychological well-being of our nation’s service members and their families. The fact that our military is pulling out of overseas contingency operations does not diminish the impact on troops and their families of more than a decade of war, more than a decade of prolonged separations and more than a decade of continued and repeated sacrifice. As military psychologists, we must sustain our efforts in researching the effects of sustained war on service members and their families—just as clinicians must continue to apply the most rigorously researched, evidence-based practices in restoring and maintaining service members, veterans and their families. Furthermore, those of us who inform policy decisions must ensure that we provide well-considered, empirically based recommendations to leaders and their staffs. If we as members of the Society for Military Psychology champion these three actions, we will continue to make essential contributions not only to military psychology but also to service members, veterans and their families—and the future of our nation.
In the words of anthropologist and scholar Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Please join me as we usher in a new era of previously unimagined possibility.
President, Society for Military Psychology