Points of Pride

Col. Porter: First Psychologist to Command an Army Health Care Facility

Posted on Fri, Apr 10, 2015

By Marianne McCarthy

col porter

Rebecca Porter entered military service for much the same reason many young people did in the 70s—to help pay for their education.

“As it turned out I was not eligible for a scholarship because I had really bad eyes. But I was already enrolled, and I liked it, and so I stuck with it,” said Porter, now a colonel in the US Army with 20 years of service.

After her ROTC program, she was assigned to the Military Police Corps, but her real interests lie in psychology. So, she transferred to the Army Reserve and started on her master’s degree in counseling. That’s when she and a fellow student learned about Fielding’s doctoral program in clinical psychology.

This was back in ’91—before the prevalence of the Internet. She was pregnant with her first child, and her husband had just been deployed to Desert Storm. But Fielding’s distributed learning model made it all doable.

“With my husband being on active duty, I didn’t know how long we would be at any one location,” said Porter who re-entered active duty herself and applied for the Army’s Health Professions Scholarship. She joined the Reno cluster and graduated four years and three months later.

After his tour of duty, Porter’s husband was transferred to Hawaii, and she began her internship at Tripler Army Medical Center. Immediately following, she directed the chronic pain program there. Later she returned for a postdoctoral fellowship and then directed the fellowship program. (Porter is shown below in Hawaii with her mentor, Jerry Nims, PhD, JD, several years after her graduation.)

Hawaii to NY 075

Like many in the military, Porter’s career in the Army is characterized by a series of shifting assignments that span the country. When in the Army, you go where they tell you to.
For Porter, it was the Pentagon. She was first called to the Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison where she received a different kind of education.

“It was an exciting job and so educational to see how Capitol Hill and the Pentagon work together, sometimes in a point-counter-point way but also in a complementary way,” said Porter.

In her second position in the Pentagon, Porter became a special assistant for the Well Being of the Army where she advised the Army senior leadership on things like how your work environment impacts your affinity to the Army.

“In that role I got another phenomenal education about how the senior leadership of the Army functions—how the processes work to fund programs, to look at evidence and look at the data to inform whether or not to keep a program,” she said.


DunhamPorter later went on to be the Chief of Behavioral Health for the Army Surgeon General and Director of Psychological Health for the Army. In that job she was a leader in Behavioral Health policy for the Army and testified before Congress on various healthcare matters.


Today Porter is Commander of Dunham US Army Health Clinic in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. The facility provides primary health care for approximately 12,000 students at the US Army War College and other beneficiaries in the area. She is the first psychologist in the Army to be appointed to head a medical treatment facility, and she’s found her background essential.

“I have relied, almost daily, on my background as a clinical psychologist in doing this job,” said Porter. “I have addressed personnel and morale issues in the clinic through the use of some of what I know about attitude formation, attitude change, and confirmation bias. I’ve set up programs to try to shift peoples’ attention to positive things, rather than negative things.

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“I have always felt like I had the right academic background and interpersonal background to be able to do what I’m doing now.”

This past January, Porter came to Winter Session in Santa Barbara and spoke candidly about military psychology and how policy on post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) has changed since the 1980s. For example, you can stay on active duty with PTSD as long as you can complete your duty.

"PTSD affects the entire family," said Porter, which is why it's important to put counselors in the schools with children of military parents.

 

Tags: adult learning, higher education, clinical psychology, fielding graduate university, army, graduate education, military psychology, veterans

Student and Alumni Projects Improve the Lives of Veterans

Posted on Fri, Nov 07, 2014

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.Fielding Div19 officers

“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.

describe the imageHis 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

RebeccaA 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).ComfortProject

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 [email protected] 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. 

Tags: psychology, trauma psychology, APA Division 19, fielding graduate university, graduate education, military psychology, veterans