Understanding the influence of military culture on mental health and organizational aspects of the armed services is of particular interest to me given my decision to join the Air Force in 2015. Although, even if I were not a Service member, I would still consider the knowledge and skills gained during The Summer Institute to have utility, in working with Veteran populations and the families of those who served, as a civilian health care provider. I expected to learn about evidence-based treatments for a wide range of clinical presentations and military-specific stressors, what was less expected was the involvement of so many former and current military psychologists who added breadth and depth to the seminars and didactics.
As a third year doctoral student it was refreshing to know that this five-day training, including lodging, was free of charge. (Editor's note: The Center for Deployment Psychology will cover Summer Institute students’ lodging if they live outside the DC/MD/VA area, and there is no tuition charge. However, participants are responsible for all travel and transportation costs.) I believe this gesture speaks to the investment to ensure the highest quality of service provision to Service members. Besides the wealth of information disseminated throughout the courses, attendees were able to spend a full day at the Lincoln memorial and observe the changing of the guard ritual at the Arlington National Cemetery. Even now I reflect on that experience and reference pictures on my phone. During the seminar I met others who are as passionate as I am about a career as a military psychologist, many of whom I am still in contact with. In fact, on internship match-day we were texting one another once we learned of where we were matched for our capstone training year in our respective programs. Attending this training prior to internship interviews was invaluable and proved to be instrumental in my decision-making process.
Now that I am firmly positioned in my residency program, I find that I am able to use much of what I learned during The Summer Institute in my clinical and research endeavors. I strongly recommend that those who are considering a military internship or unsure about a career as a military psychologist apply and take advantage of this opportunity to get a taste of what to expect before making a final decision.
For more information about Summer Institute: Preparing for a Career in the Armed Forces, see "Putting on the Uniform" by Lisa French, "The Opportunity That Never Knocked on my Door" by Libby Parins, or "A Conversation on the Summer Institute" by Paula Domenici. The application period for this year's has been extended until 29 January 2018.
The opinions in CDP Perspective blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science or the Department of Defense.
Tawanna Howard was a participant in the 2016 iteration of the CDP's Summer Institute: Preparing for a Career in the Armed Forces