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Carl Castro - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Los Angeles, CA, US

Carl Castro Carl Castro

Director Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families Associate Professor Social Work Dept. of Social Change and Innovation | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Los Angeles, CA, UNITED STATES

Current research efforts include assessing the effects of combat and operations tempo (OPTEMPO) on soldier, family and unit readiness.

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Biography

Carl A. Castro is an associate professor, also serving as the director of the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families. Castro joined the faculty in 2013 after serving 33 years in the U.S. Army, where he obtained the rank of colonel. Castro began his military career as an infantryman in 1981. He served in a variety of research and leadership positions, including as director of the Military Operational Medicine Research Program, Headquarters, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Maryland. Castro has completed two tours in Iraq, as well as peacekeeping missions to Saudi Arabia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

He is currently chair of a NATO research group on military veteran transitions, a Fulbright Scholar and member of several Department of Defense research advisory panels focused on psychological health. He is the current editor of Military Behavioral Health, the flagship academic journal about the biopsychosocial health and well-being of service members, veterans and military families. Castro has authored more than 150 scientific articles and reports in numerous research areas. His current research efforts focus on assessing the effects of combat and operations tempo (OPTEMPO) on soldier, family and unit readiness, and evaluating the process of service members’ transitions from military to civilian life.

Education (3)

University of Colorado: PhD

University of Colorado: MA

Wichita State University: BA

Areas of Expertise (9)

Veterans Affairs Veterans and Military Families Military Transition Back to Civilian Life Military Affairs Psychological Health Effects of Combat Behavioral Health Mental Health Veterans in High Education

Industry Expertise (7)

Social Services Employment Services Health Care - Services Education/Learning Military Mental Health Care Government Relations

Accomplishments (2)

Gerson Award, American Psychological Association (professional)

2017

Fulbright Specialist, J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (professional)

2014

Affiliations (2)

  • Fulbright Scholar
  • Military Behavioral Health: Editor

Social

Media Appearances (3)

Researchers believe Trump tweet could negatively affect LGBTQ study

Daily Bruin  online

2017-07-31

UCLA and USC researchers conducting a study on LGBTQ military personnel said they were concerned that President Donald Trump’s attitude toward LGBTQ individuals could adversely affect their study...Carl Castro, an associate professor in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and retired army colonel who is also conducting the study, said he expected the more conservative Trump administration to change the way it incorporated LGBTQ individuals into the military.

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Bay Area veterans in bad shape: Many are jobless, homeless, depressed or suicidal

USC News  online

2017-05-16

Most service members leaving the military and returning to the San Francisco Bay Area aren’t prepared for the transition home and have a range of needs that can’t be addressed by a single organization, according to a new study from the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

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Ketamine as preventative PTSD drug for troops headed into battle? Not so fast

Seeker  online

2017-02-10

Ketamine has the potential to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new study conducted in mice from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC)...But Col. Carl Castro, director of the University of Southern California's Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, and a 33 year U.S. military veteran, is not so confident that the drug is capable of forestalling PTSD symptoms in humans.

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Availability

  • Keynote
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Research Reports & Projects (4)

The State of the American Veteran: The San Francisco Veterans Study

The State of the American Veteran: The San Francisco Veterans Study” by the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) outlines the findings of a survey conducted 2016-17 of 722 veterans living in the San Francisco Bay Area. This comprehensive study of the military population represents the fourth overall—and third in the state of California. It explored numerous areas, such as transition challenges, employment and finances, housing, health and access to veteran services.

Emerging as a theme across various studies is that veterans throughout the state and the nation encounter significant transition issues. The San Francisco Veterans Study highlights that separating service members are not being engaged effectively or early enough in their transition process.

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The State of the American Veteran: The Chicagoland Veterans Study

The State of the American Veteran: The Chicagoland Veterans Study” by the USC School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families outlines the findings of a survey conducted in 2015-16 of more than 1,200 veterans living in Cook, DuPage, Lake and Will counties in Illinois. This comprehensive study of the military population, which also includes follow-up focus groups with 20 veterans, is an extension of similar studies conducted in Southern California. It explored numerous areas, such as transition challenges, employment and finances, housing, health and access to veterans services.

Key among the findings is that many service members leave the military without having lined up some key elements that could complicate their transition home. This study also looked into military identity, perception of veteran status and social connectedness.

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The State of the American Veteran: The Orange County Veterans Study

“The State of the American Veteran: The Orange County Veterans Study” by the USC School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families outlines the findings of a survey conducted in 2014 of more than 1,200 veterans living in Orange County. This comprehensive study of the military population, which also includes follow-up focus groups with 35 veterans, is an extension of a similar study conducted in Los Angeles. It explored numerous areas, such as transition challenges, employment and finances, housing, health and access to veterans services.

Key among the findings is that many service members leaving the military and returning to Orange County are not prepared for the transition home and have a range of needs that cannot be easily provided by a single organization. Further, mental health is a concern for this population, especially among the most recent generation of veterans who have high rates of suicidal thoughts.

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The State of the American Veteran: The Los Angeles County Veterans Study

“The State of the American Veteran: The Los Angeles County Veterans Study” by the USC School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families outlines the findings of a survey conducted fall 2013 of more than 1,350 veterans living in Los Angeles County. The first comprehensive study of a large urban military population, which also includes follow-up focus groups with 72 veterans, explored numerous areas, such as transition challenges, employment and finances, housing, health and access to veterans services.

Key among the findings is that many service members leaving the military and returning to LA County are not prepared for the transition home and have a range of needs that cannot be easily provided by a single organization.

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Research Grants (1)

Using Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Military Suicides

USC Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society, USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work & USC Viterbi School of Engineering 

2018-03-28

As suicide rates among active-duty service members and veterans continue to outpace rates among the general population, researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work have joined forces to use technology to identify, as early as possible, those at risk.

The collaboration, as part of the USC Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society, or CAIS, is believed to be one of the first of its kind to use artificial intelligence to model the strength or weakness of military personnel’s social networks to ascertain suicidal thinking, depression and anxiety. The work by the USC interdisciplinary research team will be supported by a $600,000 grant from the Army Research Office.

An estimated 8,000 military veterans commit suicide every year, according to a 2012 report issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, one active-duty member kills himself or herself every 36 hours, according to 2010 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Team members include:
Milind Tambe and Eric Rice, co-founders of the USC Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society

Carl Castro, associate professor of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, retired U.S. Army colonel and research director for the USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families

Phebe Vayanos, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering and computer science and associate director of CAIS.

The team hopes to use the lessons learned from their study to increase early interventions for at-risk military personnel and veterans facing acute stress during transitional moments. These include deployment, returning home from service, joining and leaving the military, and transferring to a different duty assignment in the U.S. and abroad.

Articles & Publications (4)

PTSD in U.S. Veterans: The Role of Social Connectedness, Combat Experience and Discharge MDPI

Sara Kintzle, Nicholas Barr, Gisele Corletto and Carl A. Castro

2018-08-22

Service members who transition out of the military often face substantial challenges during
their transition to civilian life. Leaving military service requires establishing a new community as
well as sense of connectedness to that community. Little is known about how social connectedness
may be related to other prominent transition outcomes, particularly symptoms of posttraumatic
stress disorder (PTSD). The purpose of this study was to explore the role of social connectedness in
the development of PTSD, as well as its relationship to the known risk factors of combat exposure
and discharge status. Data used were drawn from a needs assessment survey of 722 veterans.
A path model was specified to test direct and indirect effects of combat experiences, non-honorable
discharge status, and social connectedness on PTSD symptoms. Results demonstrated positive direct
effects for combat experiences and non-honorable discharge status on PTSD symptoms while social
connectedness demonstrated a negative direct effect. Both combat experiences and non-honorable
discharge status demonstrated negative direct effects on social connectedness and indirect on PTSD
through the social connectedness pathway. Study findings indicate social connectedness may be
an important factor related to PTSD in veterans as well as an intervention point for mitigating risk
related to combat exposure and discharge status.

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How the Potential Benefits of Active Combat Events May Partially Offset Their Costs International Journal of Stress Management

Britt, Thomas W. Herleman, Hailey A. Odle-Dusseau, Heather N. Moore, DeWayne Castro, Carl Andrew Hoge, Charles W.

2017

The present research examined how particular types of combat exposure may be associated not only with increased mental health symptoms but also with perceived benefits that are associated with decreased mental health symptoms.

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Research at the Tip of the Spear Psychiatrists in Combat

Carl Andrew Castro

2017

This essay is a personal story that spans a period of approximately 30 years, yet focuses on my time conducting behavioral health research during the war in Iraq. It is based on my memory and view of events that transpired before and during the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan—conflicts that I like to refer to as the Great Wars on Terror.

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Refining Trauma-Focused Treatments for Servicemembers and Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder JAMA Psychiatry

Charles W. Hoge, MD; Daniel J. Lee, MD; Carl A. Castro, PhD

2016

Fifteen years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq have generated unprecedented investment in mitigating war-related mental health problems, including large increases in funding since 2007 for clinical trials of trauma-focused psychotherapies.

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