The application of Psychology has some important uses. Dr. Robyn Mehlenbeck, the director of the GMU Center for Psychological Services (GMU CPS) knows this all too well. In the last two years, the Center began working with the Virginia Department of Veteran Services (DVS) to help veterans with a variety of services, including testing for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The Center works with veterans and their family members who have been denied benefits claims and wish to appeal that decision - something the Center takes very seriously. The Center is able to provide up to 8-hour testing sessions as opposed to the 30 to 60-minute sessions provided by a typical C&P evaluation in order to evaluate a multitude of psychological problems, including PTSD. The partnership works for both the veterans and the Center itself, with the advanced doctoral students who are working at the center getting hands-on, in-depth training, and the veterans getting a second chance to obtain earned benefits that may have been denied. The fact that the Center is able to work on a sliding scale helps as well, as it helps those veterans who may not be able to afford other services.
Dr. Mehlenbeck and the advanced clinical students who help her also provide some therapy to help veterans and their family members as part of this partnership. This is limited, but it is a valuable service as it does help these service members who would otherwise miss out of benefits that could be provided from the VDVS. There are other colleges that also provide evaluations, including William and Mary and VCU, but George Mason is the only one in the Northern Virginia area.
The GMU Center for Psychological Services is proud of the work they do to help veterans, and continues to expand knowledge about working with veterans. Caleb R. Johnson, the Regional Director of DVS, was scheduled to speak to doctoral students in the Spring 2019 Semester. Dr. Mehlenbeck continues to provide education to others on how a variety of community members can help veterans. She has presented a workshop several times titled, “The medical/legal partnership: Helping our veterans get what they deserve; and introduction to assessment of PTSD.” She has presented this most recently at the Annual Department of Veterans Services Training Conference in Williamsburg, VA in April 2018. Dominion Energy recognized the value of these services and awarded GMU CPS a $60,000 grant to support evaluations of veterans in partnership with DVS. This has allowed veterans from around the state to travel to GMU CPS and have their evaluation provided to them pro bono, including a hotel stay.
Overall, GMU CPS’s mission is to serve the community by providing low cost, affordable, accessible, and state of the art mental health, while also training the next general of ethical, competent, and culturally sensitive psychologists. Their goal is to make sure these services are accessible to all members of the community. This includes community members of all ages, as well as our veterans.
To ensure that the mission continues, the Center will be holding its third annual fundraiser on April 6th, from 5:00 to 7:30 pm in the Fairfax Marriott at Fair Oaks, 11787 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, Fairfax, VA 22033. John Newby, the Commissioner of the VA Department of Veteran Services will be one of this year’s honored guests. Tickets are available at advancement.gmu.edu/psyclinic. Tickets are $50. If you would like to support with a donation but are unable to attend, please visit psyclinic.gmu.edu/give.