By: Colleen Mullarkey, ’06
Like many clinical psychologists, Melissa Munro Boyd, M.A. ’06, Psy.D. ’10, often helps clients deal with grief, loss, trauma, and work-related stress. As an Armyclinical psychologist, combating these issues is a much different battle. Boyd, a captain in the U.S. Army’s Medical Service Corps, has helped her fellow service members soldier on, whether she’s providing care in a hospital setting, on a U.S. Army base, or in an active war zone.
“There is a great need for psychologists in the military. You’re working with people who have a lot of concerns, and they don’t have someone to listen to them,” Boyd said. “It’s a really rewarding experience and an excellent field to go into.”
While it seems like a specialized area, clinical psychology in the military is actually a diverse field. Boyd’s clinical work includes therapy with families of military service members, consultation with commanding officers, psychological evaluations, groups for soldiers suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder, groups for adolescents, and therapy with active and retired members.
Currently, she is on active duty as a staff clinical psychologist at Fort Belvoir, Va., and chief of Fairfax Behavioral Health Clinic. “What I enjoy most is helping service members,” she said. “I love helping them to address difficult issues and being there to help them to continue serving.”
During her deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan, from February 2011to February 2012, she got the chance to do just that—working directly with military members who were on the front lines. Her work there earned her a Bronze Star Medal, an honor that the U.S. Armed Forces bestows to recognize acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone.
During her year at Camp KAIA in Kabul, she not only helped members from the U.S. military but also servicemen and women from several allied countries, such as France, Germany, and Italy. She helped service members to deal with the grief of losing their comrades—grief that she understood on a very personal level because she was experiencing the same difficulties. “I was just doing what I was called to do,” Boyd said. “I was expecting to help people, but working with them really helped me.”
She enjoyed building relationships with other behavioral health providers on the base who came from countries across the globe and bonding with Christians with whom she studied the Bible and attended chapel on Sundays. This camaraderie and shared faith gave her the strength to help her fellow service members push forward.
“Whether it’s a loss or a traumatic situation, it’s important to stay strong in your faith and recognize the importance of your service,” Boyd said. “I always try to see the bigger picture. You have to look at the good things that are still to come, despite the challenges.”