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The Institute of War Stress Injuries, Recovery, and Social Justice was established on 1 June 2012, at Antioch University Seattle, as the only known domestic or international academic entity dedicated to the principle of social justice with the overarching goal of ending cyclic failures in meeting the mental health needs of the warrior class and the private sector. After every war since the turn of the 20th century, well-documented “psychiatric lessons of war” have been repeatedly ignored, resulting in costly self-inflicted military mental health crises. To this date, however, there has never been a full-investigation into the reasons for neglecting these hard won lessons in order to end the cycle of preventable harm and loss.
The mission of the Institute is two-fold: (1) investigate, identify, and eliminate root causes for repetitive crises in military mental healthcare, and (2) end the cycle of crises by transforming mental healthcare policy and practice. Although special emphasis is given to the estimated 24 million members of the warrior class including their family members, and healers-the activities of the Institute will equally benefit non-military populations through the advancement of knowledge and understanding of traumatic stress-related injuries.
The Institute has identified the following broad, inter-related goals:
- Increase public and professional awareness of the misinformation and realities related to the: history, prevalence, research, nature, causes, prevention, assessment, diagnosis, resiliency, and treatment of War Stress Injury (WSI) and Traumatic Stress Injury (TSI);
- Investigate, identify and eliminate the root causes underlying cyclical patterns of military mental health crises associated with every major armed conflict;
- Study the role of culture, media, academia, socio-politics and economics in perpetuating and ending cyclical mental healthcare crises;
- Ensure that all members of the warrior class have open access to the highest quality mental healthcare services available, including family members;
- Promote understanding and prevention of suicide and interpersonal violence;
- Eliminate stigma and barriers to care associated with mental healthcare;
- End the disparity between mental and physical health;
- Identify and promote “best practices” in helping the warrior class successfully transition back to civilian culture;
- Prevention of generational effects of war stress injuries;
- Ensure present and future healers are knowledgeable and well-trained on the prevalence, nature, prevention, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of WSI/TSI;
- Promote understanding and prevention of moral injury, misconduct stress behaviors, and war atrocities;
- Increase awareness and training on understanding the prevalence, nature, causes, prevention, assessment, and treatment of compassion stress injuries amongst helping professionals.
Currently, the Institute is staffed by the founding director, Mark C. Russell, CDR, USN (Ret.) Ph.D. ABPP, who is supported by AUS students and volunteers. Institute activities are organized into three inter-related domains: 1) Research and Scholarship, (2) Policy Analysis and Social Change, and (3) Consultation and Training.
The Institute benefits from a world-class Advisory Board, positioned to provide advice and counsel to the Institute’s leadership team including such dignitaries as:
- Charles R. Figley, PhD, (Advisory Board Chair); Tulane University;
- Anu Baghwati, Co-Founder, Service Women’s Action Network;
- J. Douglas Bremner, MD, Emory University School of Medicine;
- David Grossman, LTCOL USA (Ret.), Founder, Warrior Science Group and Killology Institute;
- Edgar Jones, DPhil, PhD, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, London, England;
- Christina Lamb, U.K. War Correspondent;
- Nick Lazaredes, Australian Dateline Television;
- Frank M. Ochberg, MD, Michigan State University;
- Jonathan Shay, MD, PhD., Department of Veterans Affairs;
- David D. Rabb, LCSW, Col., USAR;
- Edward K. Rynearson, MD, National Homicide Support Project;
- Krysttel Stryczek, Military Spouse;
- Tad Tuleja, PhD, Cultural Anthropologist, American University.
The founding director of the Institute of War Stress Injuries, Recovery, & Social Justice, Mark C. Russell contributed to the 2015 documentary Thank You For Your Service.
The Institute also created the short film Stranger At Home.
Publications of Institute research include:
Russell, M. C. & Figley, C. R. (2017). Do the military’s frontline psychiatry/combat and operational stress control doctrine help or harm veterans?—Part one: framing the issue. Psychol. Inj. and Law, 10, 1-23.
Russell, M. C. & Figley, C. R. (2017). Do the military’s frontline psychiatry/combat operational stress control programs benefit veterans? Part two: Systematic review of the evidence. Psycol. Inj. and Law, 10, 24-71.
Russell, M. C. & Figley, C. R. (2017). Is the military’s century-old frontline psychiatry policy harmful to veterans and their families? Part three of a systematic review. Psychol. Inj. and Law, 10, 72-95.
Russell, M.C., Butkus S.N. & Figley, C.R. (2016b). Is It Time for a Behavioral Health Corps? Ending the Generational Cycle of Preventable Wartime Mental Health Crises—Part 2. Psychol. Inj. and Law, 9, 73–86.
Russell, M.C., Figley, C.R., & Robertson, K. R. (2015). Investigating the psychiatric lessons of war and pattern of preventable wartime behavioral health crises. Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Science, 3(1), 1-16
The Institute’s mission is also centrally featured in the recent award-winning documentary film, Thank You for Your Service!
A complete listing of past, present, and future Institute activities and accomplishments is available upon request ([email protected]).
How Can I Help? One way to help is by donating to the Institute. Clicking on the button above will take you to an Antioch University donation page. You will be given an opportunity to select the amount of your donation and where you wish the funds to go. The Institute of War Stress Injuries, Recovery & Social Justice will be listed in the drop-down menu.