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Free Live Webinar: VA and DOD Career Pathways Part 1 - Research-Focused Careers


Live Webinar


Members: $0

Non-Members: $0

Date Start: 04/28/2021

Webinar Registration Information Registration Date:04/13/2021
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Live Webinar (Free): 
VA and DOD Career Pathways Part 1: Research-Focused Careers


Wednesday, April 28, 2021
3:00-4:30pm Eastern / 2:00-3:30pm Central /1:00-2:30pm Mountain / 12:00-1:30pm Pacific
Moderator: Shannon M. Blakey, PhD

The United States (US) Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD) highly value mental health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists. In fact, VA and DoD are the single largest employers of psychologists, and the DoD currently identifies psychologists and social workers as its top two “mission critical occupations.” Mental health professionals throughout the VA and DoD systems deliver mental health care, conduct research spanning the translational science continuum, manage numerous national programs, and educate future generations of VA/DoD clinicians, investigators, and leaders. Yet despite the diverse array of Military and Veteran mental health careers paths, relatively few mental health trainees engage with the VA/DoD systems early in training (e.g., during graduate school). 

This panel, co-sponsored by the ABCT Student Membership Committee and the ABCT Military and Veteran Psychology SIG, is the first in a multi-part professional development series highlighting VA and DoD mental health-related career paths. This session’s panel showcases investigators conducting VA- and DoD-funded research of direct relevance to military Veterans’ and Service members’ mental health. In addition to describing their career trajectories, expert panelists will describe research questions and methodologies suitable to various systems, the advantages and challenges of conducting mental health research within a federal government system, recommendations they have for trainees considering VA/DoD career paths, and more. There will be ample opportunity for attendee participation in addition to moderated Q&A.

Views expressed during this panel are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the United States Government, Department of Veterans Affairs, or Department of Defense.
For more information, visit: 

About the Presenters:

Ron Acierno, PhD is a professor and vice chair of Veterans Affairs in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Executive Director of the UTHealth Trauma and Resilience Center (TRC). He has two related but distinct research foci: (1) epidemiological studies of elder mistreatment and (2) treatment outcome studies focusing on victims of trauma, disaster, combat, and loss, with an emphasis on PTSD treatment in Veterans. He has served as Principal Investigator on grants from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as from NIA, NIMH, NIJ, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, the Archstone Foundation, and the Retirement Research Foundation.

Shannon Kehle-Forbes, PhD is a Health Services Researcher in the Center for Care Delivery & Outcomes Research (CCDOR) at the Minneapolis VA, an Investigator with the Women’s Health Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD, and an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota. Her research program focuses on the clinical effectiveness and implementation of psychotherapies for PTSD, the impact of substance use disorders on PTSD-related treatment and functioning, and treatment seeking and access. Her work has been supported by the VA Office of Research & Development, among other agencies.

Keren Lehavot, PhD is a Core Investigator with VA Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington. She is a clinical psychologist by training and provides clinical care in the PTSD Outpatient Clinic at VA Puget Sound Health Care System. Her research, which has been funded by the VA Office of Research & Development, focuses on health disparities for vulnerable populations, LGBT issues, risk factors and consequences of trauma, and targeted treatments for women Veterans with mental health concerns.

Jessica Watrous, PhD is a clinical health psychologist, division head (Leidos contractor) of the Veteran & Active Duty Longitudinal Outcomes Research (VALOR) Division, and Co-PI of the Wounded Warrior Recovery Project (WWRP) at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego. Broadly, her clinical and research efforts have focused on the complex relationships between co-occurring mental and physical health problems, and optimizing clinical prevention and intervention protocols for mental and physical health promotion and behavior change.

About the Moderator:

Shannon Blakey, PhD is a VA Advanced Fellow in Mental Illness Research and Treatment at the Durham VA Health Care System and VA Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC). She received her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after completing her clinical internship at VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle Division. She serves in several ABCT leadership roles, including Chair of the ABCT Student Membership Committee, Young Professional Liaison for the ABCT Military and Veteran Psychology SIG, and Associate Editor of ABCT’s the Behavior Therapist.

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