Understanding and Responding to the Emerging Behavioral Health Needs of Military Drone Operators


Tuesday, April 25, 2017 | 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm ET


Service members who experience combat remotely face unique behavioral health risks. As weapon strike operations continue to reshape our approach to national defense, we must ask whether we are able to recognize and support the behavioral health needs of individuals directly tied to such mission accomplishment through the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA, more commonly known as drones). These operators engage in a unique form of warfare that provides critical support to the U.S. and allied nations around the world. They face demands and stressors that are similar to those who have deployed to areas of combat. They also face distinct challenges in that they are participating in combat situations remotely and then transitioning back into civilian settings at the end of their workday. RPA operators and their families are living in our communities and need our care and support. There are many strategies that community service providers and peers can use to support the behavioral health needs of these service members and their families. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF) Technical Assistance (TA) Center will host a webinar that will provide information about the role of operators supporting RPA missions, the stressors they face, and the behavioral health supports that are available for them. The webinar will also explore ways to connect SMVF with the specialized supports they need in order to strengthen their resiliency. SAMHSA’s SMVF TA Center works with state and territory interagency teams throughout the country to strengthen their SMVF-serving behavioral health systems. 

Learning Objectives 

  • Review the role of operators linked to RPA mission accomplishment, their skills, stressors, and common characteristics
  • Explore and dispel myths regarding RPA operators’ behavioral health risks
  • Discuss effective and available resources for supporting the behavioral health of RPA operators, including peer resources, family interventions, and embedded care models
  • Examine the current research findings related to the behavioral health risk and protective factors of RPA operators
  • Consider what can be done in the military and in civilian communities to support and to address the behavioral health needs of RPA operators and their families


Angela Wright, J.D. | Assistant Project Director, SAMHSA’s SMVF TA Center, Policy Research Associates, Inc.


Wayne Chappelle, Psy.D., A.B.P.P. | United States Air Force Surgeon General Consultant and Team Leader for Aeromedical Operational Clinical Psychology 

Lillian R. Prince, M.S. | Program Manager, Occupational Health Research, United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Prince Research and Analytic Solutions, L.L.C.

Register now!


Organizer Contact

If you have any questions about your registration, please contact Amanda Rózsavölgyi at (518) 439-7415 ext. 5272 or by email at arozsavolgyi@prainc.com.