Newswise — WASHINGTON - The American Psychological Association thanked the Department of Veterans Affairs for exempting health care provider positions, including those of doctoral psychology interns, from the hiring freeze implemented this week by President Trump.

The VA’s move came one day after APA sent a letter to Robert Snyder, acting secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, requesting this exemption. Bipartisan members of Congress also sent letters to the Trump administration calling for exemptions for the VA from the hiring freeze.

“We are gratified that Acting Secretary Snyder responded so quickly,” said APA President Antonio E. Puente, PhD. “Psychology interns, working under supervision, provide critical, evidence-based care to our veterans, many of whom are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries or substance use disorders. With 20 veterans committing suicide each day, it would have been tragic to create unnecessary barriers and further delay their access to mental health care. We acknowledge that the VA has historically been a leader in the training of psychologists.”

Puente and APA Interim CEO Cynthia D. Belar, PhD, sent a letter Jan. 26 to Snyder urging him “to exempt all those who provide health care, including doctoral psychology interns providing mental health care, as frontline caregivers to millions of veterans across this country.”

Graduate students are currently applying for 600 pre-doctoral psychology internship positions within the VA. The selection process for the first round of psychology doctoral internships begins Feb. 1. “Internships are the capstone training requirement for licensure for doctoral candidates in health service psychology,” Puente said. “Thanks to the VA’s swift action, these students’ careers will not be derailed.”

In addition to its outreach to the VA, APA is also advocating for exemptions from the hiring freeze for health care providers and trainees at the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Indian Health Service. ________________________________________ The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes nearly 115,700 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives. ________________________________________

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