In this issue

VA section report

The VA section report touches on issues such as division membership drives and mentorship programs.

By Timothy Carmody, PhD

As I write this column on the last day of June, I hope that you are finding ways to enjoy the warm sunny weather this summer and have an opportunity to spend some quality vacation time with family. I have just learned that I have been elected president-elect of Div. 18 and am very excited about taking on that role. As I move into this new position, I will continue to work very closely with Howie Steinberg, chair-elect of the VA section; Dave Pilkey, our secretary-treasurer; Layne Goble, membership co-chair; and Anne Klee, current president of Div. 18, to promote the initiatives of the VA section.

The 17th Annual VA Psychology Leadership Conference took place in San Antonio on May 20-23. As you know, this conference is sponsored by Div. 18, the Association of VA Psychology Leaders and APA. Our own Sam Wan chaired the planning committee and did a fantastic job planning and orchestrating the conference. This was not an easy task this year with the VA travel funding uncertainties presented by the VA Attendance and Cost Estimation System (ACES). Nevertheless, the conference was well attended and feedback from participants very positive. The theme of this year's conference was “ VA Psychology: Serving Veterans through Interprofessional Care and Expanding Partnerships .” In line with that theme, there were informative and engaging presentations on a variety of topics, including the interprofessional model of care, behavioral health interdisciplinary programs, evidence-based treatments, implementation of primary care--mental health integration, and partnerships with community agencies. The conference agenda included repeated breakout sessions and plenty of opportunities for networking. On the first evening, Randy Phelps was honored for the many years of service he has given to maintaining the high quality of the leadership conference and his tireless support of VA psychology over the years. As in past years, presentations addressed leadership issues as well as topics aimed at early career psychologists in the VA. APA President Nadine Kaslow had an opportunity to share dinner with a group of VA psychology trainees and presented presidential citations to Sam Wan, Mary Schoen, and Jennifer Boyd. Heather Kelly received the Pat DeLeon Advocacy Award. The planning has already begun for next year's conference with Sam Wan again chairing the planning committee.

During the past few months, the VA section has been actively involved in the Div. 18 membership drive. We have thus far nominated eight VA psychologists for complimentary memberships: Audrey Austin; Daniel Gros; Jessica Gustin; Jill Hedt; Will Hua; Payal Mapara; Eleni Romano; and Kelly Russo. We have also been reaching out to former Div. 18 members who have not yet renewed their membership to encourage them to do so and to identify initiatives or projects in which they wish to become involved. We have also continued to expand our Network of Champions at VA facilities to disseminate information about Div. 18, promote involvement in professional issues through the division, and provide a resource for psychologists in different career stages and tracks. In recent weeks, the following VA psychologists have joined the Network of Champions for Div. 18 VA Section: Jill Hedt; Genevieve Davis; and Steve McCutcheon. We appreciate the efforts of all of our champions, and with their help we hope to develop stronger partnerships with psychology leaders and training directors by providing them with membership information to share with their staff. If you would like to serve as a champion for Div. 18 at your local facility, please email Timothy Carmody or Howard Steinberg.

We will again be proudly honoring our own by selecting deserving colleagues for the annual VA section awards. Dan Kivlahan, PhD, chairs the VA Section Awards Committee which has been reviewing nominations for the eight VA section awards: Besyner Award for Lifetime Achievement; Outstanding Clinician; Outstanding Researcher ; Outstanding Administrator; Outstanding Director of Training; Outstanding Supervisor or Mentor ; Outstanding Contributions in Psychosocial Rehabilitation; and Outstanding Psychology Trainee. These awards will be presented at the VA section business meeting in the Div. 18 hospitality suite at the APA convention in Washington, D.C. It is always a pleasure to give out these awards, which provides an opportunity to celebrate the amazing work of our VA section members.

Allison Aosved, PhD, has continued to coordinate the mentorship program that provides guidance for our trainees and early career psychologists to help them in developing their careers. To date, 13 pairs of mentors and mentees have been enrolled in the program and Aosved has received positive feedback from many of the participants. Early career psychologists have indicated that they benefit significantly from the information, advice, and guidance of their mentors. If you would like to become involved in our mentoring program, please email Allison Aosved.

The VA section of Div. 18 has entered the world of social media with Facebook and Twitter accounts/links. Jodi Bremer-Landau and Katie Taylor Lynch, two of our student members, have put together a program and have recruited other trainees to help organize and manage postings to these social media sites. They have received helpful input from C. J. Bonander in accomplishing this task. They are working on creating a daily schedule that will include news articles, information for trainees, updates on VA psychology, public service issues, historical information, and other topics.

Next spring, the VA section will be holding elections for the positions of chair-elect and secretary-treasurer. We are looking for candidates to run for these offices. The best way to have an impact on the initiatives and projects of the VA section of Div. 18 is to become a member of our executive committee. If you are interested in running for one of these positions, please let us know.

Lastly, the annual APA convention will be taking place in Washington, D.C. The Div. 18 program should be outstanding and will include several sessions pertaining to the military and veterans: Veterans and Sexuality; Telehealth and Health Care Reform; Internalized Stigma Regarding Mental Illness; and Homelessness Among Veterans. The VA section business meeting will take place in the Div. 18 hospitality suite at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel where we will be honoring recipients of our VA section awards and conducting other business. We look forward to seeing those of you who are able to attend.