Rolling out the Red Carpet: Bart Billings '66
For one night, Dr. Bart Billings ’66 was a celebrity.
His decades of research on combat stress and studies evaluating the relationship between psychiatric medication and increased suicides in the military caught the eye of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR).
The group, a global watchdog committed to investigating and exposing human rights violations in the field of mental health, honored Billings with the Human Rights award at its yearly awards gala in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 1.
“It felt like the Academy Awards,” Dr. Billings said. “I was given the award by Erika Christensen, a fabulous young actress. It was the biggest and most professional event that I’ve been to in my career. It was humbling.”
Billings found out about the award in December. His reaction was one shared by many Scranton graduates excelling in their chosen professions. “I was surprised when I found out,” he said. “It’s kind of just what I do. It’s the Jesuit training I received at Scranton in action. We’re here to serve others.”
Dr. Billing’s extensive background in management and program development includes positions as chief of professional services/assistant director at the University of California, and Davis Teaching Hospital’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department, and service as Commanding Officer for a General Hospital Section in the U.S. Army Reserves.
A major way in which he has served others is through the Tri-Service Combat Stress Conference. Started in 1994, the conference has trained thousands of soldiers on how to help veterans who are experiencing combat stress problems.
CCHR International President Jan Eastgate said Dr. Billings, through the conference, “has provided an invaluable venue for health care professionals to share clinical expertise and integrative treatment approaches.”
“When I was in the military (retired in 2002 after 34 years), my whole unit was deployed all over the world,” explained Dr. Billings. “When they came back many of them had problems. They asked me to come up with something, and we decided to do a combat stress conference.”
Watching television one day, Billings saw an army officer being interviewed about combat stress. The interviewer asked the officer where his soldiers received their training and he said it was at the Tri-Service Combat Stress Conference. “That really made an impression on me,” Dr. Billings said. “It shows that our work is truly beneficial.”