2009 Federal Health Care Executive Award for Excellence
The winner of the 2009 Executive Award for Excellence is CAPT Russell Shilling, executive director for science and technology, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), assigned to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. CAPT Shilling helped to establish DCoE in 2007 as a member of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) Red Cell, a group that created the investment strategy aimed at treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. In this position, he has initiated and transitioned programs to assist warfighters and their families across all military services and acted as an advisor on medical science and technology issues. Shilling is a leader in medical research program management and an expert on the use of advanced simulation, videogame technology and entertainment assets to supplement medical education, training and treatment.
In 2009, Shilling led efforts to develop investment strategies for over $160 million in research funds. He helped transition the Virtual Reality Therapy program he created in 2005, which uses fully immersive computer recreations of Iraq and Afghanistan to give therapists tools to supplement traditional therapy. The technology has been adopted in over 40 hospitals and other treatment facilities across Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and the civilian sector. Also in 2009, Shilling initiated a major research program with the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California to develop the use of advanced intelligent computer avatars as educational outreach tools to warriors and families to help destigmatize psychological health treatment and link those seeking help with the best resources where they live. Additionally, his research programs aid in pandemic planning.
Also Shilling created a program with the Sesame Workshop to help service members' children cope with parental deployments and with having a parent physically or psychologically injured in combat. A companion Web site, www.sesamestreetfamilyconnections.org, was launched which includes all DVD materials and allows military families to create private accounts in which family members can interact in a Sesame Street themed, interactive environment. The next phase of the program will be released with a corresponding prime time special on April 14, 2010, to help children cope with the death of a parent or loved one. To date, the program has been awarded two prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Awards and an Interactive Media Association "Best in Class."