By D. Myles CullenNovember 26, 2008
PENTAGON, November 26, 2008 - As part of NovemberAca,!a,,cs Department-wide focus on Warrior Care, the Army Chief of Staff, General George W. Casey, Jr., and key members of his medical team met earlier this week with independent experts in the fields of positive psychology, mental health and resiliency training.
The invited experts included former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, former President of the American Psychological Association Dr. Marty Seligman, West Point professor Dr. Michael Matthews and the Chief of Psychiatry at the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dr. Larry Dewey.
The Chief of Staff told the expert panel of guests that he invited them to Washington to discuss innovative approaches in support of resilience and comprehensive fitness training for an Army stretched and stressed by the increasing demands of an era of persistent conflict. Former U.S. Surgeon General Carmona echoed General CaseyAca,!a,,cs sense of urgency about health care system sustainability, noting that Aca,!A"it is an unprecedented timeAca,!A|and we need to transformAca,!A? because Aca,!A"if we donAca,!a,,ct, the [percentage of our gross national product spent on health care] is going to be as high as 20 percent.Aca,!A?
After sharing some of their research findings, the experts engaged the Army team on ways they could partner to complement current approaches to caring for Soldiers and their families. Among the ideas discussed was the role of character development in enhancing SoldiersAca,!a,,c resiliency in the face of adversity. Aca,!A"We can train our Soldiers to be resilient from adversity,Aca,!A? said Dr. Seligman who is recognized as a world leader in positive psychology. They also talked about ways to help our returning Warriors see that they can thrive in civilian life. Finally, the group discussed the important role that local communities and individual Americans play in the lives of Soldiers and their families.
Aca,!A"I very much appreciated the conversation, and I hope we can continue the dialogue,Aca,!A? the Chief said, adding that continued engagement with outside experts will broaden the ArmyAca,!a,,cs perspective and enable it to build a better Warrior Health Care program that might eventually serve as a model for other institutions.