National Center staff are frequently called on to consult with leaders and policymakers in agencies and organizations around the US and throughout the world, and to participate on a wide array of committees and task forces.
Over its history the National Center has come to be known throughout government, medical, and academic communities worldwide as a respected resource for current, evidence-based knowledge about trauma and PTSD. The National Center's scientists are involved in the most advanced research, and its educational professionals are experts at effectively disseminating knowledge to people who can use it to benefit the nation's Veterans and others. As a result, when agencies of all kinds are looking for insights and expertise, they often turn to the professionals of the National Center.
Consultations encompass all sorts of activities, such as responding to a simple phone call or email, active involvement in a task force or work group, or being called to participate on-site in the aftermath of a natural disaster. National Center staff members are also frequently invited to participate on editorial boards of respected scientific journals, serve on review panels and awards committees, or to hold positions at professional societies and boards of professional associations.
Much of the consultation activity is to offices within VA that are directly involved in helping the nation's Veterans. In total, National Center staff occupied 50 separate positions in VA advisory groups and task forces in 2008.
National Center staff play key roles in the VA Under Secretary for Health's Special Committee on PTSD, a Congressionally-mandated committee that oversees all PTSD programs within VA. The committee is responsible for determining VA's capacity to provide assessment and treatment for PTSD and for offering guidance on related educational, research, and benefits policies.
National Center staff, Drs. Street and Kimerling, served as Co-Directors for the OMHS's Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Support Team. MST is the term used to describe instances of sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that occur during military service. The OMHS funded Drs. Kimerling, Street, and other members to ensure that VA is in compliance with legally mandated monitoring of MST screening and treatment. The team also coordinates and expands legally mandated education and training efforts related to MST, promotes best practices in the field, and offers MST-related policy recommendations for consideration by the OMHS. The MST Support Team staff is expected to expand in FY2009.
The National Center has valuable working relationships with individuals throughout DoD, which have led to many important consultations with the military. Dr. Friedman serves as a member of the VA/DoD Mental Health Workgroup, a committee that is responsible for establishing policies for post-deployment health. The group creates, implements, and monitors joint standards in the areas of clinical practice, information technology, deployment health policies, and other issues across both organizations.
Consultations to the military involve all branches of the armed forces: the Navy's HEROS Care Program, the Air Force's decompression program, and the Marine Corps Combat Operational Stress Control Team are just a few examples. During FY 2008 National Center staff also consulted to the Army Reserve Chain of Command, Navy Seals Team, Kaneohe Bay Marine Base, Vermont and Maine National Guard, National Guard and Active Duty military in Connecticut, and the Military OneSource Combat Stress Returnee Education Subgroup.
National Center staff are involved in consultations to a wide range of organizations, centers, and other governmental agencies, including the National Institutes of Health. The expertise represented at the National Center has proven to be invaluable to the mental health community, disaster preparedness and recovery teams, and institutions that are involved in the training of PTSD professionals of the future.
In addition to specific projects serving on committees and taking part in study sections and review groups for the NIMH and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Center staff members are often asked to sit on work groups and panels to help review and steer the national trauma research program. Center staff members fill leadership positions in professional societies such as the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, the American Psychiatric Association, the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and more.