Tremaine Sayles '09Ph.D.

Director of Behavioral Health Services, United States Army Reserves

St. John’s Alumnus Directs Mental Health Programs for Army Reserves

St. John’s University alumnus Dr. Tremaine Sayles ’09 Ph.D. has been appointed Director of Behavioral Health Services for the United States Army Reserves, based in Washington, D.C.

As Director, he will oversee programs that promote the mental health of Army Reservists affected by overseas contingency operations in regions such as Afghanistan and Iraq. He will collaborate with other government agencies and the military on programs that enhance the mental fitness and well being of all Army Reserve Soldiers.

A licensed clinical social worker and Army Reservist for nearly 20 years, Dr. Sayles was considering graduate programs for Psychology, when a friend referred him to Mark Terjesen, Ph.D., Associate Professor in St. John’s Department of Psychology. “He was a very friendly and welcoming person,” Dr. Sayles observed. “I was excited about applying.” Dr. Sayles was accepted, but had to defer for one year because he was called to active duty in Iraq. Following his service, he began the program.

Dr. Sayles’ primary area of study was pediatric neuropsychological assessment. He also worked briefly in the area of cardiovascular responses to stressors.

Dr. Sayles spoke highly of several faculty members within the Department of Psychology who enhanced his academic experience at St. John’s and gave generously of their time, including Chairperson Raymond DiGiuseppe, Ph.D., Robin Wellington, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Brondolo, Ph.D. “They presented a cordial environment that allowed you to build collegial, professional relationships,” he said. “Many programs are cold and distant. At St. John’s, the faculty created a environment that inspires professional and personal growth.”

As a student, Dr. Sayles worked closely with the Military Services Initiative (MSI), a program spearheaded by the Center for Psychological Services. Informing soldiers about this critical service has been a priority for Dr. Sayles. “There is an increasing demand for therapeutic and psychological services…and a stigma behind using the limited resources (of the military) for fear of suffering negative consequences, such as a loss of security clearance and denial of training and mission-related opportunities.”

Designed to address the multiple psychological issues and stressors faced by soldiers before, during and after deployment, the MSI offers confidential therapy and counseling outside normal military channels. Dr. Sayles stressed the importance of this initiative, stressing that soldiers and their families need not worry about possible negative consequences of disclosing these issues through the normal chain of command.

“I’ve seen firsthand some of the difficulties [our soldiers] experience so any and all opportunities to extend assistance to a service member are a good thing.”