A Moving Presentation

For me the high point of the APA convention was the award a former colleague of many years ago received. That colleague is Gilbert O. (Sandy) Sanders who received the American Psychological Foundation Award for his Lifetime Achievement in the Practice of Psychology. Here is the citation:

Gilbert O. Sanders, EdD, ABMP, has served as the point person for developing integrated programs of psychology and medicine in Vietnam, Alaska, California, and Germany. His leadership in psychotherapy and psychopharmacology earned him the rank of Captain, the highest rank authorized for psychologists in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). His contributions in the USPHS, the military, and as a civilian have improved fitness for duty of government personnel, reduced costs, and improved healthcare for the military and their families. His lifetime of achievements in the practice of psychology has served as a model for healthcare services for our United States civilian population.

I am not a clinician and when I was working with him, he was not working as a clinician, although he had training and degrees in clinical work and counseling. We had completely lost touch for many years. Several years ago I ran into him and learned that he was working in the PHS. When I learned and read of his award I was overwhelmed! I had no idea what he had been up to these many year! During his speech at the ceremony Sandy said that when he received the phone call telling him of his award he told them this must be a mistake. It can’t be correct. This was characteristic of Sandy’s modesty.

At the ceremony there were others who were also receiving awards for accomplishments in various areas of achievement. Sandy led off and was modest and grateful to his deceased parents, his wife, mentors, and colleagues. The other reward recipients followed suit. Awardee after awardee expressed their thanks and gratefulness. The common theme was that they could not have done it alone. Now you might think it might have been tedious and boring sitting in the audience, but it wasn’t. The modesty was genuine and the feelings were heartfelt. And these were the stars of my profession. I’ve told others that this was analogous to baseball players being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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