Bret A. Moore Psy.D., ABPP

The Camouflage Couch

Helping Professions for Veterans

Careers after the Military

Posted May 14, 2015

Like the decade following the end of World War II, the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been marked by a tremendous influx of veterans into the classroom.

Traditional "brick and mortar" and virtual universities and schools are frantically trying to keep pace with the opportunities afforded to troops through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

And these opportunities range from technical and scientific fields as found in the Professional Program for Veterans and Military Personnel at California State University to business as exemplified by the Master of Business for Veterans degree at the University of Southern California.

The allure to veterans of "helping professions" like psychology, counseling and social work has been noted for some time. It's believed that many veterans choose these professional careers because they align with the military culture of service, the desire to help those who are most vulnerable. Fortunately, schools have recognized this draw and are responding accordingly.

The Adler University in Chicago offers a fully online master's degree in military psychology, which is popular among active-duty members and veterans.

Offering courses in the areas of operational psychology, trauma and military ethics, the university prepares entry-level clinicians to effectively work with those who have served. The school also offers a specialization in military psychology within its doctoral program in clinical psychology. Program leaders and many faculty members are former military, which makes for a unique and focused experience.

The Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology specifically recruits veterans and reservists into its doctoral program in psychology, called Train Vets to Treat Vets. Former and current troops are learning about the impact of deployment on military families, effective ways for combating post-traumatic stress, and the impact of addictions on veterans and their loved ones. The school also offers critical field experience working with homeless veterans and teaches traditional psychological skills such as individual and group psychotherapy, psychological testing and research.

Based in "Military City USA," the University of Texas at San Antonio hosts a doctoral program in psychology that focuses on the health of military personnel and veterans. Different from the programs above, this degree prepares psychologists for laboratory and field-based research as opposed to clinical work.

As the need for mental health clinicians and researchers continues to grow, particularly in the area of military psychology, public and private universities and schools will continue to respond.

Caring for our nation's warriors through career training and developing culturally aware mental health providers is a good idea and a necessary response to more than a decade of war.

*This article was previously published in Dr. Moore's column "Kevlar for the Mind".