Veteran Culture Gap with Marjorie Morrison

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"It wasn't until I worked on base where I realized, "Oh, my gosh, what a different culture and world this is."


Nov 06, 2016

A majority of U.S. citizens are unfamiliar with military life and culture. How can those of us in the private sector help to bridge the gap between military and civilian cultures and help to ease the transition of our retired service members? With Marjorie Morrison, C.E.O and Founder of the PsychArmor Institute. Visit PsychArmor Institute on the web, on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Interview recorded on October 21, 2016.

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Traynham: So here's a question -- how can those of us in the private sector help bridge the gap between military and civilian cultures and ease the transition of our retired service members? Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Robert Traynham. Joining me is Marjorie Morrison. She's the C.E.O. and founder of the PsychArmor Institute.

Marjorie, welcome to the program.

Morrison: Thanks for having me.

Traynham: It's always good to have you here. What is the PsychArmor Institute, first and foremost?

Morrison: I'd say we're a non-profit, and I'd say we're really a public library. We host online courses that are all free, all taught by subject-matter experts, and they're all geared towards civilians, so people that don't have a military background but that want to support our veterans.

Traynham: And to better understand that, that is, to understand the culture, the life, the nomenclature if you will, of our veterans and to try to figure out exactly to do what with these programs?

Morrison: So they're all ways to help them transition back into civilian life. And so our courses, we have over 100. And so in one regard, yes, it is culture, but then they get a lot more specific. So things like for employers, we train them on how to do effective interview and assessment techniques, how to help assimilate them or combination plans if needed. For healthcare providers, it can be everything from understanding P.T.S.D. to military sexual trauma to intimacy issues. We train caregivers and families, educators on how to effectively work with military kids and veterans when they go back to school.

Traynham: What's really interesting about what you just said is it's all free, and it serves as a resource, if you will, for those that are just curious or clearly want to know more information about the military's culture. Can you give us any best practices with respect to how many hundreds if not thousands of people that you've educated over the last couple of years?

Morrison: Oh, my gosh, yes. So we're less than 2 years old, and we are educating thousands, thousands, tens of thousands. And the nice thing about our courses besides the fact that they're free, we let them sit on anyone else's website, so we partner with the government. In fact, we get a lot of our content from the government. So a lot of times, the V.A. will have amazing knowledge, and they have these experts, but nobody would ever know, so what we do at PsychArmor is we get the content and the audio. We send out a headset to subject-matter experts, then we have developers in-house that then turn that content into really engaging experience. So we use all animation, gamification, simulation, we embed videos, so for someone who may not have a big attention span or just wants to learn a little something, we want to try to make that experience really good.

Traynham: Marjorie, my understanding is that you do not have a military background. But you were called to this in some way, shape, or form. Walk us through that.

Morrison: Well, it's a good question, because I was a clinician in private practice -- marriage-family therapist -- and I would see veterans, and I didn't know anything about them, and I didn't know I needed to know anything. And it wasn't until I worked on base where I realized, "Oh, my gosh, what a different culture and world this is." And I had such a steep learning curve that after I had that experience, I really felt like there has to be a place for people like me. You know, they say there's 40,000 nonprofits that support Veterans, but there was nobody helping the average American. We only have 1% serving and about 10% connected, so 90% of us don't know with an all-volunteer force. We don't know anything, so it just became a passion.

Traynham: And that passion now has turned into a cause. And for the folks out there, for the 99.9% of us out there that do not serve in the military, you mentioned, it's almost like shared knowledge, if you will. But if I'm watching this program, where can I get more information about the PsychArmor Institute?

Morrison: Please go to our website. It's And when you go on there, in the left-hand side, you'll see courses, and they're broken into the schools. We have 6 different schools. And inside it, you'll see all the courses, and then there's a little, brief registration. As a nonprofit, we have 3rd party evaluators that check all these questions, like where are you from or whatever. Not a lot, but we have a little reg-- And then once you're in, then you can just keep taking as many courses as you want. It's all free.

Traynham: So 2 years later, 6 schools in, are there any big surprises, is there anything you've said, "Wow. I did not know that. Thank goodness that we're doing this"? Or "Aha! This is something I didn't know. We have to go even further in x, y, or z"?

Morrison: Yeah, that's a great question. So we have about 100 courses. We're funded to build about another close to 100 more.

Traynham: Wow. Well, stop there. 100 more?

Morrison: Yes!

Traynham: Because there's a need there, clearly.

Morrison: There is such a need, and I keep thinking that, "Oh, yeah, we've covered this, we got this." Now we're building out schools for legal. We're going to building out schools for faith leaders. internationally, we're helping the U.K. and Canada and Australia, so it really just keeps mushrooming. I keep thinking finally, we're going to say, "Okay, we hit critical mass here. We don't need any more courses." But, you know, the need is high, and people keep asking, "Well, what about a course on this?" And I'm know. And of course, now the question is, "Are you going to have courses for Veterans, how to transition" you know? And so we're working on some peer-support stuff, so yeah, there's a lot of room to go.

Traynham: There you go. To be continued.Thank you very much for joining us, Marjorie.We really appreciate it.-Thanks again for having me. -And thank you for joining usfor this edition of "Comcast Newsmakers."I'm Robert Traynham. Have a great day.We'll see you next time. Bye-bye.

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