Reverend Robert Certain Since first named as a navigator instructor-evaluator in 1972, I have been asked to instruct, guide, assess, and otherwise consult with individuals and organizations seeking to improve or expand their work. The more I have learned, the more I have been privileged to share that experience with others. Beginning in 2007, I have served as an independent advisor to several departments of the executive branch of the federal government.

Defense Health Board
In late 2007, I was appointed to the Defense Health Board, a Federal Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Defense, providing independent scientific advice and recommendations on matters relating to operational programs, health policy development, health research programs, and requirements for the treatment and prevention of disease and injury, promotion of health and the delivery of health care to DoD beneficiaries. I also serve on two of its subcommittees: Medical Ethics and Psychological Health.

Medical Ethics
The Medical Ethics Subcommittee functions as a subcommittee of the Defense Health Board with specific emphasis on medical ethics, the study of moral values as they apply to medicine and their practical application in clinical settings. The subcommittee serves as the primary referral group for Departmental questions related to medical ethics, and meets as necessary with the approval of the Board for the purpose of addressing requests from the Department and to discuss the latest developments in Departmental issues pertaining to medical ethics.

Psychological Health
The Psychological Health External Advisory Subcommittee serves as an external advisory body for research and operation policy regarding psychological health. The subcommittee, with a focus on prevention, recognition, clinical management, and treatment of psychological and mental health issues among military service members and their families. The subcommittee provides external advice and recommendations through the core Board to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. The subcommittee meets as necessary with the approval of the Board for the purpose of addressing requests from the Department and to discuss the latest developments in psychological health. The subcommittee also provides external advice on Center of Excellence operations. This subcommittee serves as the primary referral group for Departmental questions related to psychological and mental health.

Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces
The Department of Defense Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces was mandated by Congress in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, and established by the Secretary of Defense in August of that year. The fourteen members (six military, eight civilians) met for a year to read, listen to, and assess suicide prevention efforts within the military services. They reported their findings and recommendations to the Secretary of Defense in August 2010.

National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is a joint public-private effort to promote suicide prevention in the US, spearheaded by Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and other senior leaders in government. The Honorable Gordon Smith, President and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters and former United States Senator from Oregon, together with the Secretary of the Army, serve as the private and public co-chairs of the Action Alliance.

The Action Alliance, comprised of the co-chairs and Executive Committee Members, aims to advance specific, high-priority objectives of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention requiring leverage and coordination at the national level.

Co-chairs and the Executive Committee members provide strategic leadership to the Alliance and represent the diverse fields and perspectives that have a vested interest in suicide prevention.

Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Former POWs
The Advisory Committee on Former POWs advises the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on matters of concern to our nation’s former prisoners of war. Since World War I, more than 142,000 Americans, including 85 women, have been captured and interned as POWs. Not included in this figure are nearly 93,000 Americans who were lost or never recovered. More than 90% of living former POWs were captured and interned during World War II. About 15,367 former POWs are in receipt of compensation for service-connected injuries, diseases, or illnesses.

In 1981, Congress passed Public Law 97-37 entitled “Former Prisoners of War Benefit Act.” This law accomplished several things. It established an Advisory Committee on Former Prisoners of War and mandated medical and dental care. It also identified certain diagnoses as presumptive service-connected conditions for former POWs. Subsequent public laws and policy decisions by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs have added additional diagnoses to the list of presumptive conditions.