Psychology professors from Berkshire Community College (BCC) and Simon's Rock have joined four BCC alumnae as co-authors of a chapter in Treating Young Veterans: Promoting Resilience Through Practice and Advocacy, a new book about the needs of American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The chapter is written by social psychologists Wayne Klug, a BCC professor and social worker, and Anne O'Dwyer, Dean of Bard College at Simon's Rock and a past president of New England Psychological Association. The book is published by Springer Publishing Company in New York, and may be ordered at the Springer website or from any bookstore.
Titled "The burden of combat: Cognitive dissonance in Iraq war veterans", the 50-page chapter is based on a study conducted in 2006 and 2007 by BCC students Haili Polo-Neil, Deirdre Barry, and Leah Dillard of Pittsfield, and Megan Warriner of Cummington, all from military families.
The study is part of Klug's ongoing research program with BCC students, for which he recently received the inaugural Award for Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring for Community College Faculty, given by Division 9 of the American Psychological Association. The award cites Klug's "mentoring of students in policy-relevant research".
"Psychology students have been turning out provocative studies here for 15 years," Klug said. "What better place to conduct community research than a community college?"
The four BCC students had previously presented their findings at the 2008 APA convention, marking the first time that research by community college students had been invited to the organization's annual convention. The study was also the subject of an article in the January 2009 issue of Scientific American Mind.
The book chapter examines how soldiers who have killed in battle deal with the conflict between two views of themselves. "The soldiers see themselves as decent and humane people," Klug said, "but they also realize that they've taken human lives. How do they resolve this moral conflict, especially after they come home?" The authors believe the conflict may be a factor in post-traumatic stress disorder.
The book was praised by Peter Vaughan, Dean of the Graduate School of Social Service at Fordham University, who described it as "a thoughtful, sensitive, and sensible approach to working with veterans".
"I hope the book will give readers another chance to think about the cost of war as a social policy," Klug said. "The psychological turmoil among the veterans in our study makes me think we owe them that."