If you are currently an intern or you recently completed your internship, you are most likely frantically looking for postdoctoral opportunities. As you begin to look at various opportunities, it may be of great benefit to consider applying to a postdoctoral residency with the United States Army.

Training Locations

The US Army offers four APPIC postdoctoral sites across the country: Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas, Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) in Honolulu, Hawaii, Madigan Army Medical Center (MAMC) in Seattle, Wash., and Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC) in Fayetteville, N.C.

All postdoctoral residency training sites are dual-focused, aimed at developing strong generalist clinical psychologists as well competent U.S. Army officers and leaders. Each site offers slightly different clinical and leadership opportunities.

Training Opportunities

Texas

BAMC residents participate in four individual three-month rotations: an administrative rotation, advanced military assessment, an external military rotation also known as the Embedded Behavioral Health (EBH) rotation, and a choice of an elective rotation (e.g., neuropsychology, health psychology, child and family, intensive outpatient clinic, inpatient, primary care, etc.). Residents will also participate in a year-long evidence-based treatment and supervision rotation focused on developing proficiency in administering EBTs such as prolonged exposure (PE), cognitive processing therapy (CPT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), among others.

Hawaii

TAMC residents participate in two year-long concurrent rotations: an EBH rotation where the resident is assigned to provide behavioral health services to a battalion-sized element (consisting of 300-800 soldiers), and a secondary rotation in the Specialty Evaluation Clinic located at TAMC that provides residents the opportunity to conduct specialized psychological evaluations of service members as well as provides the opportunity to develop clinical supervision skills.

Washington State

MAMC residents complete a three-month rotation within a local unit’s EBH Team, a two-month rotation in assessment, a two-month intensive outpatient program (IOP) or residential treatment facility (RTF) rotation, and additional elective rotations of their choosing: pediatric psychology, primary care, marital therapy, operational psychology/special operations, telehealth and technology, obstetrics and gynecology, or neuropsychology.

North Carolina

The WAMC residency consists of a nine-month core clinical experience and a three-month elective rotation. The core clinical experience occurs within a large EBH clinic where residents are provided ample opportunities to practice and obtain supervision in more traditional psychological assessment, intervention, and consultation skills.

Upon successful completion of the nine-month core clinical experience, residents in good standing may select one of four electives for a three-month rotation: neuropsychology, inpatient psychology, clinical research, or an operational rotation.

Patient Population Opportunities

Army postdoctoral residency trainings are a good fit for clinicians who have an interest in working with clients who experience various forms of trauma (combat, sexual assault, death, disasters, etc.). Additionally, you will have the opportunity to work with individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, adjustment, sleep, relationships and marital conflicts, among a variety of other presenting concerns.

You will be trained and learn to become proficient in administering and providing evidence-based treatments such as prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, CBT for suicidal ideation, and many more. The Army may also pay your travel expenses so that you can attend other trainings, conferences, and broadening opportunities.

Leadership and Supervision Opportunities

All psychology postdoctoral residents will commission into the United States Army at the rank of Captain. Captains are company-grade officers and as such are tasked with lots of responsibility and leadership opportunities. Psychology residents lead and supervise behavioral health technicians, which are either junior enlisted personnel or non-commissioned officers in the Army.

Residents are tasked with developing proficiency in training and supervising the work performed by behavioral health technicians, which includes triage and intakes, conducting command-directed evaluations, risk assessments, and group therapy.

Residents may also be tasked with supervising current psychology interns at the training site, and or supervising practicum students from around the community. Residents are tasked with various leadership opportunities such as conducting briefings to different size-elements (platoons, companies, battalions, brigades, etc.), speaking with unit commanders about the behavioral health concerns of soldiers, conducting inpatient discharge meetings, putting on trainings and raising awareness of suicide prevention, and many more.

Residents will also be tasked with consultation opportunities with interdisciplinary providers across the medical center, including psychiatrists, physicians, physician assistants, neurologists, OB/GYN doctors, and nurses, among others. Psychology residents are expected to become the subject matter expert in the areas of behavioral health within the Army and military at large.

Pay and Benefits

Commissioning at the rank of Captain and joining the Army, after completing an APA-accredited internship, offers a highly competitive salary in comparison to civilian postdoctoral experiences. For example, a postdoctoral resident (single with no children) at TAMC, with no prior military experience, can make a starting salary of $91,007.88 (base pay of $51,019.20 + non-taxable housing and subsistence allowance of $39,988.68).

Additionally, the Army offers licensed psychologists an annual $5,000 bonus pay on top of that. The Army is also currently offering retention bonuses of $35,000/year for signing for a six year commitment. For example, this could provide a TAMC resident with a starting salary of approximately $131,007! The Army offers an additional $5,000 upon ABPP certification. A thorough explanation of current pay incentives was created by the division of military psychology. A detailed compensation calculator is also available.

In addition to the rewarding financial compensation, all active duty psychology residents will receive free medical and dental care for themselves and their spouse and children.

For those not licensed by the time they enter residency, residents will have ample opportunity and aid in getting licensed before finishing residency. Residency sites offer time, support, and possibly some study materials to help residents get licensed in a state of their choosing.

Completing a residency in the Army creates job security, as you will not be required to look for new opportunities afterwards. At the completion of your residency you will be required to complete a three-year service obligation where you will serve as a brigade-level Behavioral Health Officer (BHO).

Expectations of Candidates

Postdoctoral residents are competitively selected as direct commissioning officers (uniformed officers who have received a commission without the typical prerequisites for achieving a commission) who have, or will, complete an APA accredited internship. Physical fitness training is an integral part of being U.S. Army officers; residents are required to maintain the standards of fitness established by the Army. The residency is an intensive, full-time, 12-month program that offers depth and breadth of military psychology experiences in order to prepare residents for their follow-on assignment within the Army.

How to Proceed if You Are Interested

Contact an Army Medical Recruiter today to gain more information.

Explore the various training sites and opportunities within the APPIC database.

Talk to program directors at the Army residency sites and ask to be connected with current Army residents and psychologists who can speak more in-depth about the application process and the training opportunity.

DISCLAIMER: The view(s) expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of Brooke Army Medical Center, the U.S. Army Medical Department, the U.S. Army Office of the Surgeon General, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Air Force and Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

Igor Vasilj, PhD

Dr. Igor Vasilj is a licensed clinical psychologist and a Captain in the United States Army. He currently works as a postdoctoral clinical psychology resident at the Brooke Army Medical Center within the Army Medical Department. Dr. Vasilj holds a PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kentucky. He completed his APA-accredited doctoral internship at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, specializing in providing evidence-based trauma treatments to service members diagnosed with PTSD. Originally born in Eastern Europe, Dr. Vasilj lived in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, and Germany prior to moving to the United States. Dr. Vasilj’s previous clinical experiences include working at a VA Medical Center, a community mental health agency, a nonprofit center for women, children, and families, and a college counseling center. In his spare time, he enjoys weightlifting, playing golf, swimming, and spending quality time with friends and loved ones.
Igor Vasilj, PhD