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

Vets: Homeless for Thanksgiving

I used to walk the halls of power, at the Capitol and the Pentagon, when I spoke on PTSD among Soldiers, as an active duty Army psychiatrist. Now, I take care of those in the public mental health system in the nation’s capital. Those halls are much murkier, even as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Every day I take the Metro and walk …

Battleland Battleland

Pondering the Decade Since 9/11

The news of the shooting down of a Chinook with 30 U.S. troops, mostly Special Forces, dead is chilling.

With the 10th anniversary of 9/11/2001 fast approaching, it heightens the sacrifices of the military, as President Obama recently remarked.

I often think that we—we being both the military and the nation—have not really …

Battleland Battleland

Military Suicides: The Families Left Behind

In the recent swirl of articles and blogs about the new Presidential policy on honoring those who suicide in combat with a condolence letter, there are some who may be lost: the Families. The controversy seems to be about whether or not you should “honor” the Soldier who died with a letter of condolence. Recently the White House …

Battleland Battleland

PTSD and Veterans: Jobs Are What Is Needed

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been a controversial diagnosis since its inception. Originally called by many names (“compensation neurosis”), it was not officially given the name PTSD until well after the end of the Vietnam War. By then, many veterans with PTSD also were bedeviled with substance abuse, joblessness, and …

Battleland Battleland

The Third Rail: Guns and Suicide in the Army

As a top Army psychiatrist until last year, I always found the Army’s silence about guns’ role in our rising suicide rate disquieting. The Army is committed to lowering the rate of suicide. But there’s a curious third rail that is seldom publicly discussed: the risks of suicide by firearm. Approximately 70 percent of Army and …

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