Elspeth Cameron Ritchie

Dr. Elspeth Cameron "Cam" Ritchie is a long-time Army psychiatrist now serving as the chief clinical officer for the District of Columbia's Department of Mental Health. Before retiring from the Army in 2010, she spent the final five of her 24 years in uniform as the top advocate for mental health inside of the Office of the Army Surgeon General. Before that, she served in other leadership roles including as the psychiatry consultant to the Army Surgeon general at the Department of Defense Health Affairs. Trained at Harvard, George Washington, Walter Reed, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, she is a professor of psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences - the U.S. military's medical school -- in Bethesda, Md., and a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University. An internationally recognized expert on mental trauma, she has completed fellowships in forensic and preventive and disaster psychiatry. She served around the world for the Army, including Cuba, Iraq, South Korea and Somalia. She has published more than 130 professional articles, mainly dealing with forensic, disaster, suicide, ethics, military combat and operational psychiatry, and women's health issues. Major publications include The Mental Health Response to the 9/11 Attack on the Pentagon, Mental Health Interventions for Mass Violence and Disaster, and Humanitarian Assistance and Health Diplomacy: Military-Civilian Partnership in the 2004 Tsunami Aftermath. She was the senior editor on a Military Medicine text on Combat and Operational Behavioral Health, the Textbook of Forensic Military Mental Health, and the Therapeutic Use of Canines in Army Medicine.

Articles from Contributor

Battleland Battleland

The Importance of Instilling Hope

The 4th Annual Department of Defense-VA suicide-prevention conference was a big deal here in the capital last week, with three days of presentations by top officials from the Pentagon and the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services. I put together the first military suicide-prevention conference, back in 2002. A …

Battleland Battleland

Veteran Workers Are Good Workers

Hiring a veteran is not charity. It is good business.

That’s the premise of the new report from the Center for New American Security presented Wednesday at its annual meeting. Drs. Margaret Harrell and Nancy Berglass interviewed representatives from 69 companies. The report listed both the pluses and minuses associated with hiring …

Battleland Battleland

Caring for the Caregiver

I am increasingly worried about the toll on my Army medical colleagues still left on active duty. The American public and the media legitimately focus on the enlisted Soldier and those who have borne the brunt of the direct fighting.

But we must also concern themselves with the welfare of the nurses, doctors, medics and other staff …

Battleland Battleland

Former Foes, Now Allied

I love all of the current dialogue between the American Psychiatric Association and the military. For years, they were at loggerheads, principally about the policy of not allowing gays to openly serve in the armed forces. Military psychiatrists could wear their uniform at APA events, but were often singled out for criticism over the …

Battleland Battleland

What’s In a Name?

I want to add to the debate on the hot issue at the American Psychiatric Association this week. Retired Army general and vice chief of staff Peter Chiarelli made a strong case for re-naming post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Chiarelli advocates calling it post-traumatic stress injury. The Canadians use the term “operational …

Battleland Battleland

The New Rules on PTSD

Wow. The new 17-page policy from the Army’s Office of the Surgeon General (OTSG ) on screening and treating PTSD is exciting and comprehensive. And will absolutely be controversial.

Although it is playing out in the news as related to the Fort Lewis controversy – were its reversals of PTSD diagnoses there fair? — this …

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