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A military psychologist is a mental health professional who primarily handles mental issues associated with military organizations. Psychologists are very important to many military groups, as they can assist in the identification of candidates for special jobs, analyze the mental risks of combat and other related situations, and help device strategies for information gathering. A military psychologist can also help returning troops deal with emotional trauma and readjustment to civilian life, both serious concerns for those soldiers and military personnel returning from combat situations.
Military psychologists may be civilians or military personnel. They can operate in many different situations and have an extensive educational background that assists them with a variety of responsibilities. A military psychologist will most likely have a PhD, MD, or PsyD degree, though some positions do not require board certification. Though some positions allow candidates to apply while still completing a dissertation, many others require several years of professional experience in a clinical or research capacity. Age limits, physical health, and criminal history can also impact the availability of certain jobs.
There are many different types of jobs within a military organization for a psychologist. Some work with military families as well as troops and may be stationed on bases, while others are actually deployed with troops to battle zones to provide care in situations both stressful and dangerous. Many work at military hospitals or clinics to help address issues associated with injuries, post-traumatic stress, depression, substance abuse, and other mental health problems common to returning or injured troops.
One long-standing job of a military psychologist is to assist with intelligence tests and evaluations. These tests are given to identify enlisted men or women that may have a special aptitude for a job, as well as to measure the general aptitude of all new military recruits. This helps military organizations ensure that the right people are going to the right positions for their skills.
A military psychologist with an interest in counter-insurgency and intelligence gathering may be able to find a research position in the field. Psychological studies are very important to the development of interrogation techniques that produce valuable military intelligence. Many experts believe that psychologists can play an important role in diverting interrogation tactics away from the possibility of physical abuse and torture; by training interrogators to gain the trust of prisoners through psychology, some experts believe that more truthful information can be gained at a fast pace.