by Marianne McCarthy
Veterans Day honors America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. While our nation pauses to reflect on those who have served our country, we would like to recognize a few of those in the Fielding community who dedicate their practice and study to improving the lives of veterans.
Preparing to Serve Vets and Their Families
“A lot of our veterans are coming back with brain injuries, and they are finding that they have increased sensitivity to light, memory problems, difficulty thinking and reasoning, and responding with the same kind of personality their spouses remember,” says Jeremy Jinkerson, a doctoral student in clinical psychology with neuropsychology concentration.
Jinkerson's interest in military psychology stems from his earlier work with children and adolescents, where he developed specialties and interest in the traumatic process and how PTSD develops. He is currently doing his practicum at Little Rock Air Force Base and applying to become an officer in the Air Force.
Jinkerson is also the Commanding Officer of Fielding’s APA Division 19 Society for Military Psychology student chapter. Other officers include Tiffany Duffing (Executive Officer) and Athena Hubbard (Secretary/Treasurer). The group has put together a training series to help prepare students to serve active military families and veterans now and in their future careers. They’ve brought in speakers and even had presentations from some Fielding students.
“We can learn a lot from [Fielding] veterans as well,” says Jinkerson. “We’ve had presentations on military culture and on topics that are of interest and pertinent to us from a clinical perspective. We’ve had presentations from interns at active duty sites as well as national training directors who are teaching us what we need to know now to apply to their site this year or next year.
Later this year, Jinkerson will transition into a more national role for Division 19. As Director of Programming, he’ll be organizing programming and virtual dissemination strategies for all of Division 19 members.
Developing Entrepreneurship for Veterans’ Families
Growing up in Harlem with parents who were actively involved in community affairs had a huge impact on Stephen Redmon. The Human & Organizational Systems (HOS) alumnus (2013) has been devoted to community service since he graduated college and joined the Peace Corps. Today, Redmon serves as Special Assistant to the General Counsel of the Departments of Veterans Affairs. But in 2008, he was selected for the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities at Syracuse University where he developed an award-winning business plan for improving the quality of life for service-disabled veterans.
His dissertation explores the experiences of family members of veterans who participated in the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans Family Program (EBV-F), an entrepreneurial learning and coaching program designed to assist family members of service-disabled veterans in an effort to support the discontinuous life transition of these veterans and their families.
“Family members of service-disabled veterans oftentimes have to bring more income to the family to make up for the decrease in income because possibly of the service disabled veteran,” says Redmon. “The entrepreneur opportunity offers both the potential for income and resources for the family, but also a more flexible way to bring in those resources to the family.”
Redmon has been practicing law for 25 years. His doctorate in HOS has allowed him to take a “more holistic, medical-legal approach” to his practice. Rather than looking at a case from as a purely criminal justice matter, Redmon seeks out the root cause of a patient’s condition to see if there’s a legal component to it. Does the veteran need counseling? Assessment, diagnosis, or treatment? Is a drug or alcohol intervention needed?
Comforting Heroes in their Greatest Hour of Need
A couple of years ago, clinical psychology doctoral student Rebecca Hodges started the Military Heroes Comfort Project. The nonprofit organization provides knitted hats, blankets and other sources of comfort to military heroes and their families going through chemotherapy, infusions, or radiation.
The project began following her own family’s struggle with cancer. When her foster son retired from active duty, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and needed infusions. According to Hodges, military budget cuts meant few of any items of comfort were available during these treatments. She saw a huge need for lap blankets, chemo hats, ball caps, slippers and quilts to help comfort patients as they bravely battled with cancer. Yet regulations prohibited anyone from giving or sharing these items to non-relatives. That’s when Hodges decided to create her own organization, one that is sanctioned by the US Judge Advocate General (JAG). In the short span of two years, her group, comprised completely of volunteer sewers, knitters, and donors from across the nation, has provided over $350,000 in donated or handmade gifts to patients of all ages (infants through geriatrics).
Hodges always needs donors and crafters, but she is especially looking for someone to help the organization with social media and a website. If you’re interested in helping out, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. All donations are tax-deductible.
Want to get involved?
If you are a veteran or are interested in learning more about veterans' issues, there are two Fielding communities to consider joining. Psychology students can join Division 19 of the American Psychological Association (APA). Any student can join the Fielding Veterans Connection, a group that was initiated by Redmon and fellow HOS alumnus Bart Buechner as a space to share interests and offer support. The group has both a Moodle (login required) and LinkedIn forum and is open to both veterans and non-veterans.