January 31, 2020
Dear Society Members,
2020 will be another exciting year for the Society for Military Psychology, Division 19 of the American Psychological Association (APA). On behalf of your 2020 EXCOM, I thank you for your commitment to military psychology and your continuing support for our Society. I am honored to be your 2020 President and will work diligently on your behalf to build on the achievements of my predecessors and move our Division forward.
Division 19 is arguably the most professionally diverse Division in the APA. We have members with backgrounds in most subdisciplines and specialties of psychology, all working in military contexts. There are many ways to be a military psychologist and to practice, research, educate and advocate within military psychology. We need to embrace and celebrate this professional diversity and to work together to promote military psychology. That is why my presidential theme for 2020 is Stronger Together.
Although our members are a professionally diverse group, we are united by a common mission—a mission to apply psychology in the service of military members, Veterans, their families and military organizations. We endeavor to improve the work, health and lives of individuals and the effectiveness and health of organizations. We often need to collaborate in teams with other psychologists and other professionals to accomplish our mission successfully. We are Stronger Together.
Regardless of your specific focus, if you work to support military members, Veterans, their families, or military organizations and their civilian personnel, if you conduct research with military populations or organizations, if you educate and develop psychologists to support work in military contexts, or if you advocate for or participate in military psychology, you are welcome in Division 19. We want to be one of your professional homes, if not your only professional home. Each one of us contributes to the great military psychology community. We are Stronger Together.
I want us all to think about how we can be more professionally inclusive and open the Division 19 tent to more participation from professionally diverse groups. We need to be welcoming and inclusive of both healthcare and general applied psychologists. We need to think about practice as referring to more than healthcare practice and research as broader than research in general applied psychology. There are many ways to practice and research in military psychology. We are Stronger Together.
People can be unintentionally excluded by the words and the channels of communication we choose. Our experience informs our communications. We are often unaware that we use words and examples that are specific to our practice area or subdiscipline, which unintentionally signals to members of other groups they need not apply. That is why I am asking our officers and committee chairs to ensure that our policies and communications do not unintentionally signal that an opportunity is restricted to a specific subdiscipline or professional when it is not. I am asking you all to open the tent flap and support professional diversity by creating opportunities for all military psychologists to participate in Division 19 and inviting your friends and colleagues to checkout our Division. We are Stronger Together.
Before I look forward to my 2020 priorities, I want to look back for a moment to thank Stephen Bowles for his leadership as our 2019 Division President. Last year, our Division started several new initiatives, such as the Regional Symposium Series and the Division Leadership Program. These programs will continue and provide an important legacy for his presidency.
I most appreciate Stephen championing a meeting with APA leadership in December. At which, Stephen, Mark Staal and I were able to advocate for our members and military psychology, and I was able to make connections to serve you better in 2020. Having those meetings with APA staff and the APA Board of Directors has enabled me to hit the ground running as I have already been reaching out on your behalf.
A special thank you to our elected officers who ended their terms December 31, 2019—Nate Ainspan (Secretary), Scott Johnston (Treasurer), Carrie Kennedy (Council Representative), Tatana Olson (Member-at-large), and Mark Staal (Past President). Thank you for your service. I know you all will remain active in our Division. Carrie Kennedy was elected to another term as our Council Representative to APA Council of Representatives, and Scott Johnston was elected to a term as Member-at-large.
A special thank you to our committee past chairs and chairs who rotated off the EXCOM at the end of December. Thank you for your service. We literally cannot do the business of our Division without you and your committee volunteers.
I look forward to working with our 2020 EXCOM. Maurice Sipos (President-elect), Ryan Landoll (Treasurer), and Angela Legner (Secretary) are joining our already strong lineup of elected officers with Paul Barton (Member-at-large), Becky Blais (Council Representative), Stephen Bowles (Past President), Bruce Crow (Member-at-large), Scott Johnston (Member-at-large), and Carrie Kennedy (Council Representative) returning. We have a strong team of new and returning committee chairs as well. I am truly excited to be working with such as an amazing group of talented professionals. I thank you all for your service to our Division.
We are Stronger Together!
For 2020, there are several key initiatives we are pursuing on your behalf:
These are the new items we have planned. We are also in process on planning the APA Convention Program and other programs for you as well as conducting the normal business of our Division. Stay tuned to our listserv, website, social media and newsletter for updates and announcements.
In terms of our relationship with APA, most of you know relations with APA have been strained since the Hoffman Report was leaked. This grossly flawed report has done damage to our members, our Division and Military Psychology. Last year, Stephen did a great job in reaching out and trying to repair the relationship by focusing on areas of common interest.
I will continue to work with APA where our Division’s interests are aligned with APA’s interests and build bridges. We just supported Heather Kelly by writing a letter to the Honorable Senator Gillibrand to provide an evidence-based perspective on service members seeking treatment for suicidal thoughts and command notification. I have been serving on APA’s Advisory Group for Applied Psychology, where the interest in reengaging general applied psychologists is shared. I believe APA and Division 19 are stronger together in advocacy for issues both organizations care about.
That said, I will continue to advocate for the retraction and removal of the Hoffman Report from the APA website. I believe no reconciliation can be complete while the profoundly flawed report remains on an official APA website and continues to cause damage to our members, our Division and military psychology. This is the ethically correct action and APA’s leadership should do the right thing and remove the report. Without the report’s removal, the healing cannot truly begin for many of our members.
As a final note, I would like to thank Heather Kelly for all her service to Division 19, military psychology, and military members, Veterans and their families. Heather left APA at the end January to work for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee as a senior professional staffer, where I know she will continue to be a strong advocate for Veterans and their families.
I look forward to serving as your President in 2020. I hope to see each of you at our annual meeting in Washington, D.C., during the APA Convention or in Raleigh, NC, for the 62nd IMTA conference.
We are Stronger Together!
Eric A. Surface, PhD
Society for Military Psychology (Division 19, APA)