Category Archives: Education

The 20th Annual International Military & Civilian Combat Stress Conference in May

* Presenters are being sought. Get in touch with Bart Billings at:

Pre-Conference • Wednesday-Thursday, May 2-3, 2012 Conference • Friday-Sunday, May 4-6, 2012 Attend 1-5 Days & Earn 6-30 C.E. Hours

DoubleTree Hotel • Los Angeles (Westside), California, USA

The 20th Annual International Military & Civilian Combat Stress Conference is the leading and longest- running conference on combat stress in the world. This annual multi-disciplinary event was founded by (and continues to be directed by) Col. (Ret.) Bart P. Billings, Ph.D. to bring civilian and military medical and mental health professionals from around the world together to share their clinical expertise dealing with issues such as:

• Blast Injuries • Grief & Loss • Nightmares • Suicide

• Combat Readiness • Deployment & Redeployment • PTSD • Terrorism

• Compassion Fatigue • Medication Issues • Professional Issues • Threat Assessment

• Crisis Intervention • Military Culture • Returning Troops • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Pre-Conference Schedule

Visit us online for complete course descriptions, topics, learning objectives, and instructor profiles.

Wednesday, May 2 • 0900-1600 • One-Day Courses (6 C.E. Hours Each) [Select One Only] 0900 Option 1 TBA 0900 Option 2 TBA 0900 Option 3 TBA

Thursday, May 3 • 0900-1600 • One-Day Courses (6 C.E. Hours Each) [Select One Only] 0900 Option 1 TBA 0900 Option 2 TBA

0900 Law & Ethics: Legal & Ethical Considerations in Clinical Practice • Pamela H. Harmell, Ph.D. is a psychologist and former President of the California Board of Psychology. She serves as Co-Chair of the Los Angeles County Psychological Association Ethics Committee and is a past Chair of the California Psychological Association Ethics Committee. She is a professor at Pepperdine University?s Graduate School of Education and Psychology.

Conference Schedule

Visit us online for complete course descriptions, topics, learning objectives, and instructor profiles.

Friday, May 4 • 0900-1600 • 6 C.E. Hours

0900 Topic 1 TBA (75 min. + Q&A) 1030 Topic 2 TBA (75 min. + Q&A) 1200 Lunch (1 hour; on your own) 1300 Topic 3 TBA (45 min. + Q&A) 1400 Topic 4 TBA (45 min. + Q&A) 1500 Topic 5 TBA (45 min. + Q&A)

Saturday, May 5 • 0900-1600 • 6 C.E. Hours

0900 Topic 1 TBA (75 min. + Q&A) 1030 Topic 2 TBA (75 min. + Q&A) 1200 Lunch (1 hour; on your own) 1300 Topic 3 TBA (45 min. + Q&A) 1400 Topic 4 TBA (45 min. + Q&A) 1500 Topic 5 TBA (45 min. + Q&A)

Sunday, May 6 • 0900-1600 • 6 C.E. Hours

0900 Topic 1 TBA (75 min. + Q&A) 1030 Topic 2 TBA (75 min. + Q&A) 1200 Lunch (1 hour; on your own) 1300 Topic 3 TBA (45 min. + Q&A) 1400 Topic 4 TBA (45 min. + Q&A) 1500 Topic 5 TBA (45 min. + Q&A)

Veteran’s Justice Advocacy Project Feb. 23 in San Diego

Veteran’s Treatment Courts (VTCs): A Dignified Path to Justice

The Veteran’s Justice Advocacy Project Team would like to formally invite the public to a VTC panel discussion scheduled for Thursday, February 23, 2012 from 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm at the USC San Diego Academic Center, 16870 West Bernardo Drive in Rancho Bernardo, CA 92127.

Panelists include: Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-50), Judge Wendy Lindley and Lindsay Gold (San Diego VA Veterans Justice Outreach Liaison). Lunch will be provided.

The Veteran’s Justice Advocacy Project supports California’s upcoming Assembly Bill 201 and VTCs as an honorable alternative for those who have served our country. These specialized courts divert eligible service members suffering from mental illness and/or substance dependency to a specialized court docket, where their cases can be efficiently addressed and they are provided with opportunities for treatment.

The statistics are alarming: one in five veterans report symptoms of mental illness, and one in four (ages 18-25) have struggled with substances since returning home from America’s conflicts. Young vets are now being swept into California’s justice system in unprecedented numbers.

VTCs are proven, provide a fair hearing for those who served, and are a common sense way forward in light of California’s overcrowded prisons.

For More Information Contact:

David Curry


Psych News — 13 Jan.

Pride, Teamwork, Excellence: A Year in Review (

Drum Will Host NFL Player (Watertown Daily Times)

PTSD a Priority at Omaha Med Schools (Livewell Nebraska)

Military Study Aims to Aid Troops with Mild TBI (American Forces Press Service)

Former NFL Players to Spend ‘Game Day’ on Base (San Clemente Patch)

Sarasota Symposium to Focus on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Herald-Tribune)

Support for Soldiers (KFYR-TV 5)

Soldiers, Professional Athletes Share Threat From Brain Injuries (

By the Numbers: 130 (The White House Blog)

Resolve is Relative (Susan Davis International)

Vet Families Can Access Mental Helath Tools Online (The Daily Armonk)

Reunited Troops, Families Face Stresses of Reconnecting (USA Today)

Rejuvenating Oxygen (The Jackson Sun)

Veterans Train Service Dogs to Help PTSD (EmaxHealth)

Fort Bliss Soldier Deaths at Home Compared to Fort Hood (KFOX 14)

It’s Not Just the Politicians Who Have Cheapened the Defense Debate

I recall from early in my career when Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) took to the floor of the Senate to attack the allegedly scurrilous report that the B-1 bomber would cost as much as $60 million a copy: in truth, it turned out to cost $200 million per copy.  I also remember when Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-AR) opposed keeping battleships in the Navy because of their “teak deck:”  In peacetime, the Iowa class battleships did lay wood on top of their 7.5 inch thick steel decks.  No one needs to be reminded that Congressman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Leon Panetta (formerly D-CA) have termed any further cuts in the defense budget to be “catastrophic:” If returning to 2007 levels of defense spending is so terrible, why did Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates not tell us back then?

Such outrageous statements are so ignorant that you have to assume the politicians knew they were full of baloney when they made them.  They probably assumed no one would check up on them or that such bunkum “will go around the world while the truth is still pulling its boots on.”  (Thank you, Mark Twain.)

Think tanks have been a part of the Washington scene since at least the end of World War II.  People expect them to have competent research and logical analysis behind their comments.  That can be a perilous assumption.  A recent example occurred just after Christmas when the Director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Foreign Policy Studies invoked the name of a chief architect of the F-15 and the F-16 (and more) in a commentary to promote the F-22 and the F-35.  The willfulness of the ignorance is something that senators Goldwater and Bumpers and today’s Pentagon budget boosters would recognize.

There are other characteristics of the debate on the F-22 and the F-35 that need to be recognized as badly misinformed, especially that either one is an asset to our air forces.

Four of us worked with that genius who, among many other things, had a fundamental role in two of the most successful fighter designs in recent aviation history, Col. John Boyd.  We took profound offense at the ignorant and misleading assertion that he had anything but derision for the F-22 and the thinking behind the F-35.  In response, we wrote a commentary–not just on the aircraft but also on the depths to which the Washington debate on these subjects has sunk.

Find our comments at any of the websites that follow, and below:

CounterPunch at

Huffington Post at

Time magazine’s Battleland blog at  Text follows:

Descent into Ignominy

The Heritage Foundation Then and Now

By Thomas Christie, Pierre Sprey, Chuck Spinney & Winslow Wheeler

Almost 30 years ago, in 1983, The Heritage Foundation stepped forward as a thoughtful, independent thinking participant in the then-raging debate over Ronald Reagan’s defense budget increases. In one of its major policy publications, Heritage published an insightful analysis with an unambiguous conclusion: “The increased spending secured by President Reagan should afford significant improvements in force size. It does not.” (See Agenda ’83: A Mandate for Leadership Report, Richard N. Holwill, ed., The Heritage Foundation, 1983; see chapter 4, p. 69 of “Defense” by George W.S. Kuhn.) The analysis was crammed with data and straightforward logic as it made the case for real reform in America’s overpriced, underperforming defense budget.

Since then, Heritage has come a long way in defense policy analysis, all of it downward. On December 26, 2011 the Director of Heritage’s Center for Foreign Policy Studies, Dr. James J. Carafano, published a commentary in the Washington Examiner, “What To Do about Obama’s Pound-Foolish Air Force.” Without saying so explicitly, he implied that the legendary Col. John R. Boyd, “a fighter pilot’s fighter pilot” in Dr. Carafano’s words, would favor what the good doctor wants: to reopen production of the $411 million F-22 and to buy more $154 million F-35s. (Col. Boyd was much more than “a fighter pilot’s fighter pilot.” His revolutionary air-to-air tactics manual changed the way every major air force in the world flies. His brilliant energy-maneuverability approach to fighter design saved the F-15 from becoming a lumbering F-111-like disaster-and created the extraordinarily successful F-16. Read more about him in the Naval Institute Proceedings article Genghis John or better, in Robert Coram’s excellent biography Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War.)

Each of us knew and worked closely with John Boyd. Invoking Boyd’s legacy to endorse Carafano’s ideas about the F-22 and the F-35-ideas that would have been anathema to Boyd-profoundly offends us. Demonstrating ignorance about both John Boyd’s thinking and about fighter aircraft fundamentals, the Carafano article’s pervasive disregard for facts provides an excellent example of the ethical bankruptcy that lies at the core of our defense problems and our defense budget debate today. With this editorial by their Director for Foreign Policy Studies, Heritage signals a descent from serious analysis of the nation’s defense needs to contemptible gimmicks for pushing the big-spending agenda of the Foundation’s defense industry funders-specifically, in this case, pushing the agenda of Lockheed-Martin, manufacturer of the F-22 and F-35 and major contributor to Heritage .

The starting point of Carafano’s advocacy of more F-22 and F-35 spending, his spin on Boyd’s profound analysis of why American F-86s outfought Russian MiG-15s in Korea, is both shallow and wrong. He claims Boyd found that the MiG-15′s major advantages in altitude, speed and turn were overcome by the F-86′s “bubble” canopy which enabled its pilots to see the MiGs first. In fact, Boyd’s energy maneuverability analysis of the two fighters showed that the MiG had only small, relatively insignificant turning and accelerating advantages and that there were no speed differences of any tactical consequence. Boyd did indeed believe the superior rear visibility through the F-86′s bubble canopy was an advantage (and insisted on an even better canopy for the F-16), not to see the enemy first but to avoid being “bounced” by surprise from the tail quadrant and to avoid losing sight of the opponent during dogfight maneuvers.

But Boyd’s most important insight into the technical advantages of the F-86 escapes Carafano entirely. Boyd saw that the F-86′s far quicker control response, due to its then-new hydraulic controls, allowed American pilots to transition far faster from one maneuver to the next. And those much faster transitions allowed the American pilots to confront the enemy with increasingly confusing and incomprehensible tactical moves and countermoves-the key to gaining firing position and dogfight victory. And that crucial insight led to directly to Boyd’s seminal OODA (observe-orient-decide-act) loop concept, the foundation of the innovative and much more encompassing theories of human conflict that made Boyd the most important military thinker of the last century.

Not only did Carafano miss the boat on the technical differences between the F-86 and MiG-15, he ignored the even more important Boydian idea that, to win wars, people come first, ideas (i.e., tactics and strategy) are second, and hardware is a distant third. It was perfectly obvious to Boyd why two hundred F-86s achieved air superiority over 1000 MiGs in Korea and shot down 5 to 10 enemies for every American loss. Our pilots were simply far more skilled than the Chinese and Russians by virtue of better selection, more rigorous and realistic training using better tactics and better exploitation of the skills of experienced pilots, and far more flying hours (the much more reliable F-86 flew 40 hours per month to the MiG’s 10 or 12 hours). Had we changed aircraft with the enemy, our lop-sided victory tally in Korea would have been the same-an insight repeated almost verbatim decades later by the Israeli Air Force commanders after the 1973 and 1982 wars, then again by the U.S commander of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Despite John Boyd’s seminal role in designing the F-15 and F-16, he was always the first to point out that technical differences in friendly versus enemy aircraft are minor compared to differences in people skills-and that applied with equal force to ground and naval weapons.

Which brings us to Carafano’s relentless promotion of F-22 spending. His opening focus on the F-86′s bubble canopy is ironic. The F-22 lacks such a bubble canopy and therefore has far less rearward visibility than the F-86-and far less than Boyd’s F-16. The F-22 is an even worse step backwards-a catastrophic one-in the pilot skill dimension. The plane is not just incredibly expensive to buy (now at $411 million per copy in terms of total program cost, it is still growing), it is also far too unreliable, far too unmaintainable and far too expensive in operating cost (at $61,000 per hour and also growing) to provide even minimally adequate training. For four months in 2011, the entire fleet was grounded due to engine cooling air and oxygen system related failures that the Air Force still cannot explain; when it was flying, pilots only flew an abysmally inadequate eight to nine hours per month. This is only one-third to one-quarter of the flying hours that elite air forces use to train truly competent air-to-air fighter pilots. Thanks to the F-22′s ludicrous eight to nine hours per month, our once-premier fighter force is decaying rapidly. To this Dr. Carafano is oblivious.

Moreover, even if technical performance were the dominant factor in air combat, the F-22 is no premier fighter. Its aerodynamic performance-maneuverability, acceleration and range-is a gigantic disappointment. The F-22 purports to compensate with technologies-radar, radar warning and radar missiles-that historically have failed time and time again; technologies that make the airplane more vulnerable to enemy countermeasures, not less. Finally, two of its hyper-touted “Fifth Generation” characteristics-”stealth” and “supercruise”-are, in truth, astonishingly limited. F-22 stealth is a delusion: every VHF (i.e. long wavelength) radar in the world can detect the F-22 at 150 to 200 miles, and the Russians, and others, have built and sold thousands of such radars. The F-22′s “supercruise”, that is, its ability to cruise supersonically, is unusably short in duration (due to inadequate onboard fuel capacity)-so short that current Air Force training missions to exercise supercruising combat actually schedule one tanker refueling just before going supersonic and one more refueling before going home subsonically. Imagine having to schedule two tanker hook-ups for every F-22 sortie in the chaos of a serious shooting war!

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ decision to terminate F-22 production should be appreciated as his single most positive contribution to American air power-and certainly one of the very few issues he would have seen eye to eye with John Boyd.

We say this, not just because of our various backgrounds in combat aircraft design, defense acquisition, weapons testing, defense budget analysis, and defense budget politics, but also because we know what John Boyd, Dr. Carafano’s erstwhile icon, had to say about the F-22. He despised both the F-22′s design and its acquisition program; it violated every idea he fought for in fighter design and every principle he formulated to help American forces prevail on the battlefield. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, before he died, Boyd often expressed his utter contempt for the F-22 to each one of us, always in terms too colorful to print.

It gets worse regarding the F-35. When Boyd died 15 years ago, the inevitable failure of the F-35 as a viable combat aircraft was already clear, though not as crushingly obvious as it is to today. In 2012, with the airplane just 20 percent through its entirely inadequate flight test plan (over 80 percent of the airplane’s performance characteristics will remain untested in any planned flight test), we already know we are facing across-the-board failures to meet original specifications. Moreover, if the F-35 lived up to 100 percent of its depressingly modest design specifications, it would still be a complete failure in combat utility: a bomber of shorter range, lower payload and far higher vulnerability than the Vietnam War’s appallingly flammable, underperforming F-105 Lead Sled; an air-to-air fighter so unmaneuverable and sluggish in acceleration that any ancient MiG-21 will tear it to shreds; and a close support fighter that is a menace to our troops on any battlefield, unable to hit camouflaged tactical targets and incapable of distinguishing friendly soldiers from enemies. Individually and collectively, we often fretted with Boyd on the irresponsibility of equipping our people with such foolishly complex weapons designs, so bereft of practical combat effectiveness-and on the deep corruption of acquisition programs, such as the F-35′s, that deliberately plan to buy a thousand or more units long before user testing has fully probed combat utility.

Dr. Carafano is free to pump out baloney that pleases his funders, but to invoke Boyd’s legacy to promote F-22 and F-35 spending goes beyond simple, and perhaps willful, misrepresentation. Here is a paradigm of the moral decay so visible among contemporary Washington defense “intellectuals.” These dabblers in defense pretend to serve seriously the real needs of our national defense and our people in uniform-when, in fact, they are serving the needs of foundations, universities, non-profits or politicians funded by defense mega-corporations seeking to expand their sources of government largesse. And, even in a shrinking economy, these dabblers easily find comfortable home bases and plenty of venues to publish or broadcast their paeans to big ticket programs and budgets.

It was not always like this. In 1983, a very long time ago, The Heritage Foundation courageously undertook some in-depth, independent, pro-defense analyses to strengthen our defenses while reforming spending and easing the taxpayer’s burden. Today, Heritage’s defense efforts are homilies supporting smaller forces, less people in uniform, and more dollars to buy fewer weapons of increasing ineffectiveness. How sad. How pathetic. How destructive to the security of Americans.

All these issues-declining combat effectiveness, increasing acquisition mismanagement, inadequate training and the lack of ethics in defense advocacy-merit serious discussion. If Dr. Carafano would like to engage in a public debate on these questions, we would be happy to accommodate him.

Thomas Christie, Pierre Sprey, Chuck Spinney and Winslow Wheeler (Bios) are authors in the anthology “The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It.” The book is available at no cost, and its co-authors have waived copyright protection, so there are no limits on reproduction or distribution.

Winslow T. Wheeler, Director
Straus Military Reform Project
Center for Defense Information

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California Community Colleges Meet, Focus on Vets

By Rick Rogers

SAN DIEGO — Easing the transition from battlefield to classroom was the focus of a summit held last week in San Diego on student veterans at California’s 112 community colleges.

And not a minute too soon.

California Community Colleges have seen an explosion of student veterans in recent years: From 26,000 in the 2008-09 academic year to more than 43,000 student veterans this year.

Many more student veterans are expected as the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq winds down and the military shed tens of thousands of service members for budget reasons in the coming years.

The San Diego Community College District alone has 11,000 service members, veterans and dependents enrolled in its programs.

An estimated 80 percent of California’s returning veterans at some point use their GI Bill to school at community colleges, which are often their first academic stop.

But transitioning from military life to school can be socially and academically jolting.

Mike Dear, a student services specialist at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, estimated that 13,000 student veterans are struggling with college life.

Sometimes it’s due to issues of Post Traumatic Stress or Traumatic Brian Injury; other times it’s a failure to adapt culturally.

Dear said veterans can feel set adrift going from the military, where they are told what to do and how to do it, to academic life, where a lot of decisions fall on them.

Dear said the summit focused on best practices that community colleges can employ to help the growing student veteran population thrive, including partnering with state and federal agencies like the California Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Our colleges are all ready doing a lot of things to support student veterans,” Dear said. “We are all ready doing well and what want to do better.”

Part of doing better entails a more standardized approach to veterans services at community colleges across the state, said Jon Nachison, co-founder of Stand Down, a community-based intervention program designed to help homeless veterans.

“Right now each college is kind of independent in making their own decisions on how best to ease that transition,” said Nachison, a longtime veteran advocate who spoke at the sumit.

“The summit served as an excellent way for the schools trade ideas about what works and what doesn’t.”

Discussions centered on mental health needs for veterans, understanding military culture and helping veterans access financial aid and other resources.

“Because community colleges are often a first stop that, they have to sensitive to TBI and PTS and help these young veterans get their feet underneath them,” Nachison said. “That is part of their mission: Help with transition.”

Dear said community colleges across the state are considering veteran resource centere, peer-to-peer mentoring and counseling.

“I hope that this year’s summit is the first of many to come,” Dear said.

Serve Veterans, Earn Income, an Education Award and More with AmeriCorps

Do you want to make a difference within the veteran community while earning a monthly stipend, education award and healthcare benefits? If so, you might be interested in serving as a AmeriCorps member. Here are the details:

Member Duties: AmeriCorps members will engage veterans and inform them of the benefits and services they may be eligible for, including but not limited to employment, education, healthcare, mental health services, and many other benefits. Attend outreach events in an effort to connect with veterans as well as training for member development.

Program Benefits: Childcare assistance if eligible, Education award upon successful completion of service, Health Coverage, Living Allowance Stipend, Training.

Terms: Car recommended, Uniforms provided and required.

Service Areas: Community Outreach.

Skills: Communications, Computers/Technology, Public Speaking, General Skills, Interest in serving veterans.

For more information, click here.

Accepting Applications  From  10/19/2011  To  12/18/2012

Contact   Nicole Behler


How PTSD Took Over America

In the past 30 years, post-traumatic stress disorder has gone from exotic rarity to omnipresent. Once chiefly applied to wartime veterans returning from combat, it is now a much more common diagnosis, still linked to traumatic events but now including those occurring outside the battle zone: the death of a loved one on a hospital bed, a car crash on the highway, an assault in the neighborhood park. Many would argue that this is a good thing: greater recognition of psychologically distressing events will lead to more people seeking treatment and a decrease in the preponderance of PTSD – a win-win.

Stephen Joseph disagrees. In his new book, “What Doesn’t Kill Us,” the professor of psychology, health and social care at the University of Nottingham (in the U.K.) warns that our culture’s acceptance of PTSD has become excessive and has led to an over-medicalization of experiences that should be considered part of ordinary, normal, human experience. This has kept us from proactively working through our grief and anxiety: We’ve become too quick to go to the shrink expecting him to fix us, rather than allowing ourselves the opportunity to grow and find new meaning in our lives as a result of painful, but common, events. Joseph advocates for a push toward post-traumatic growth as therapy to treat the stress of trauma, which he distinguishes as being different from the hokey, blue skies and rainbows, pop psychology that he claims has exploded in our culture in the past decade.

Read more here.