Can you describe what you do at your job?
|Meet David G. Brown, PsyD
|David G. Brown, PsyD, Regional Director of Psychological Health, Regional Health Command-Pacific (Provisional)
|View this issue in PDF and Digital formats.
I’m the U.S. Army’s Regional Director of Psychological Health for the Indo-Asia Pacific region as well as the Behavioral Health Consultant for U.S. Pacific Command. The Indo-Asia Pacific region is the largest geographical region within the U.S. Army with the world’s three largest economies, four most populous countries, and seven of the world’s 10 largest Armies, spanning the International Date Line into 36 countries. We have more than 450 staff members serving 495,000 beneficiaries covering more than 52% of the globe.
How do you use your psychology training in that context?
My psychological training prepared me as a clinician, which affords me insights into the hundreds of providers who serve within our region. As a Veteran, I also have shared experiences with our beneficiary population. However, it’s the confluence of being a clinician/Veteran that perhaps serves me and my position best. My training in psychology also taught me to listen and to try to understand those with whom I interact. Lastly, as a result of years of formal training as a student and as a professor, I’ve learned to better code, store, retrieve, and process information. These applications have proven to be invaluable during humanitarian missions and as a loving father.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
As a child, I wanted to be a professional athlete. Consequently, what I learned was that school was always followed by practice, be it practice for soccer, wrestling, basketball, baseball, track, or even band. This sequence was in place through middle school, high school, and college. After graduating college, this routine remained. However, the workday was followed by graduate-level and then doctoral-level courses. Now, my workday is often followed by teaching college classes or taking my daughter to her practice.
Why did you first become interested in psychology?
While on a full basketball scholarship, I was injured and my hope to become a professional athlete ended. My assessment at the time was that I put “all my eggs in one basket” with sports and came up short. However, in the process of working toward my goal to be a professional athlete, I acquired the discipline needed to focus and complete tasks. In an existential dilemma, I “rebelled against the absurdity,” as described by Camus, and I decided to invest completely in my mind and experiences. So, I transferred to a small school in upstate New York and changed my undergraduate major to philosophy/religion and classical literature. As I recall, many of the undergraduate debates ended with limitations of the mind, so I naturally pursued a masters and eventually a doctorate degree in psychology to learn more about the mind and overall well-being. I’ve now taught enough undergraduate through doctoral-level courses to have multiple psychology degrees, yet I still keep teaching and learning more each year.
Did you have a mentor who helped you find your career path?
I’ve been blessed to have many mentors, perhaps without their knowledge. There are the mentors with whom we have a personal relationship who nurture, guide, and have a genuine interest in ones’ development. The U.S. Army, Department of Defense, and academia are full of brilliant, caring individuals who offer wise counsel. I believe that I was also “mentored” by the tacit knowledge I’ve acquired by the experiences and actions of others. While deployed in Bosnia in 1990s, the aftermath of ethnic cleansing, mass graves, genocide, and rape camps throughout the former Yugoslavia had a tremendous impact to motivate me to want to better understand the actions of others and to discover what can be done to help the innocent recover from their experiences and subsequent “mind-forged manacles.” An early career introduction to global traumatic events influenced my career commitment toward improving health in the life space of our beneficiaries, at home and abroad.
What sort of jobs did you have before you started your current employment?
My first postundergraduate job was to become a soldier. Since then, I’ve been an instructor, a leader, a researcher, a clinician, a professor, an author, a lecturer, a consultant, a mentor, and a father.
What sort of personalities do you think are conducive with your career?
Borrowing from Maslow’s comment that “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail,” I’ve witnessed diverse personality types that contribute to the betterment of their client or to the betterment of the office environment. So, I try not to be a reductionist searching for one personality type. Instead, I try to find value in a range of types and seek to find how they might best contribute to our mission success through inclusion. That said, being adaptable to change and a team player are key.
How does your career benefit or improve society?
I like to think that, through my interactions, I contribute to spreading well-being and aloha. My career affords me the opportunity to try to ensure that access to care and the needs of our beneficiaries are met. Consequently, I believe that our mission contributes to fostering a healthy community and that healthy communities help to produce healthy productive members of society. Through our partner nation relationships, my career also affords an opportunity to interact with, share, and perhaps mentor those attracted to our nation’s rich culture, political ideas, and policies to collaborate and cooperate toward fostering thriving global communities of health.
What is your favorite memory of being a part of your Psi Chi chapter?
My favorite memory is the look on students’ faces when informed that they’ve been accepted into Psi Chi and the knowledge that the chapter earned another mentor for the cause.
Who is your favorite psychologist? Least favorite?
My favorite psychologists are Charles Darwin, Jean Piaget, and Carl Rogers. For those unaware how a quiet, respectable gentleman and a pillar of his parish came to embrace one of the most radical ideas in the history of human thought, Darwin had a passionate hatred of slavery and did not believe that Blacks and Whites were separate species, as was a common belief and justification for slavery. Thus, with a common ancestor, evolution meant emancipation in support of the American Christian abolitionist movement. I believe that it’s important for psychology students to understand the history that influenced the systems that we study and practice. My least favorite psychologists are those chronicled in The Mismeasure of Man by Stephan Jay Gould, which I believe is also a must read for all psychologists.
Favorite psychology-related book: The Mismeasure of Man by Stephan Jay Gould
Favorite quote: “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
―Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Hobbies: Spending time with my family and, if time permits, collecting rare and out of print books
Early bird or night owl: Early bird
Dr. David G. Brown serves as the Regional Director of Psychological Health for the Regional Health Command-Pacific (Provisional) as well as the PACOM Behavioral Health Consultant. Dr. Brown came to the Pacific from the Office of the Secretary of Defense where he was the lead clinical psychologist and subject matter expert for suicide prevention. He supported the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Veterans Affairs to develop and implement processes, procedures, and standards for the transition of recovering service members. He has consulted with all 16 elements of the Intelligence Community on their respective redeployment and reintegration needs in addition to supplementing the speeches of the President of the United States, the First Lady, secretaries, senators, congressmen, flag and general officers when speaking on psychological health. He has appeared on C-SPAN (Defense Forum Washington and Warrior Family Symposium) and ABC News for his work with wounded veterans, and was a frequent guest on Armed Forces Networks television and radio programs in Germany, India, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. Dr. Brown is a recipient of the Office of Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service, the highest level career medaled award, and is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit.
Copyright 2016 (Volume 20, Issue 2) by Psi Chi, the
International Honor Society in Psychology
Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members
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