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Robert S. Brown, Sr., MD

April 29, 2017 — The UVA Medical Alumni Association recognized Robert S. Brown, Sr., MD ’67 as co-recipient of its 2017 Walter Reed Distinguished Achievement Award during a presentation on April 29 in Charlottesville. Dr. Brown received the award along with Sherita Hill Golden, MD ’94.

Since 1971, Robert S. Brown has worked in the field of psychiatry, first as an assistant professor of psychiatry at UVA, then clinical associate professor of psychiatry, then clinical professor of psychiatry and neurosciences, and now as visiting professor of psychiatry and neurosciences. Following his successful practice of psychiatry in Charlottesville for 40 years, Dr. Brown closed his practice in 2005, and at the age of 74, embarked on a new career as staff psychiatrist for the Department of Defense, Kenner Army Health Clinic, Department of Behavioral Health, at Fort Lee, Virginia. There his mission was to counsel soldiers with combat-induced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and to provide individual and group therapy for those soldiers.

Over the years, until his retirement in 2016, he has had thousands of encounters with PTSD patients and has conducted research in Combat-induced Traumatic Brain Injury, in collaboration with Jeffery Barth, PhD, Division of Neuropsychology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia. He subsequently developed a new approach to the treatment of PTSD using attachment theory reinforced by cognitive behavioral theory to help soldiers recover from the unimaginable memories of combat from what he describes as the horrors of 21st century war.

During his private practice and also in his military practice, one frequent innovation used in his depression therapy has been exercise. This was documented in his publication, The Prescription of Exercise for Depression. In the early 90’s, he was featured in Time magazine, jogging with some of his patients for therapy.

He is the author of four additional publications:

  • Sacred Ground, The Psychological Cost of Twenty-first Century War, a Collection of True Stories
  • Textbook for Mental Health, a Narrative Approach
  • Pedagogy for Surgical House Staff
  • House Staff Attitudes Toward Teaching

Dr. Brown has received numerous awards and honors from the American Psychiatric Association, the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, and the University of Virginia.

Since his acceptance of the position at Fort Lee in 2005 until his retirement in 2016, he commuted weekly 100 miles from his home in Charlottesville, Virginia, to Fort Lee to counsel and care for soldiers returning from combat. Many of these soldiers were unable to adapt to the life they led before deployment. Their injuries were visible and invisible, with complaints of depression, insomnia, inability to relate to others, impaired ability for intimacy, personality change and significantly altered memory. One of the soldiers that he saw is quoted: “War is easy; coming home is hell.” For over ten years Bob Brown worked at Fort Lee counseling soldiers. Dr. Gagon, Chief of Behavioral Health, Military Treatment Facility, is quoted in the book, Sacred Ground: “You are a wise and caring healer with unbending dedication to the people you serve.”

Congratulations to Dr. Brown on his distinguished career and on this well-deserved recognition.