From Colonel to Doctor: How Steve Lewis supports military healthcare
Whether deployed as a social worker providing services for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, training professionals in academic settings, running programs, or setting policies at the Pentagon, Steve Lewis has always aimed to deliver the best quality social and behavioral support to soldiers and their families.
"When they got the right services, they were ready to do the mission when duty called," Lewis says. "It was always about promoting mission readiness."
Throughout his 31-year U.S. Army career and now in a business development role at Leidos, Lewis has used his behavioral health expertise to help service members live their best life and reach their maximum potential. During his tenure, he graduated college and earned his doctorate. He rose through the ranks, serving in roles ranging from licensed social worker to leading several behavioral health departments in the Army. He also became a husband, a father, and a grandfather (with the newest grandchild on the way).
He champions a holistic view of healthcare that includes treating mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression and recognizing behavioral challenges such as stress and loneliness. Lewis explains that total force fitness—or whole health—includes the social, spiritual, physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of health, and all of these different aspects are interrelated.
"You can't just view health as the absence of illness," he says. "It's so much more than that."
Connecting the community through technology
Lewis explains that developing deep, meaningful connections with people is crucial to the health of individuals and communities. Loneliness, he says, is a common challenge that has been ongoing for years and was worsened by the pandemic. When people don't have deep connections with others, he says, loneliness can impact their overall health and wellbeing, as it is associated with depression, anxiety, and adverse physical health outcomes. And conversely, when people are well-connected and supported by resources such as military and family life counselors, their overall wellbeing improves.
As a business development manager, Lewis uses his knowledge and expertise to help Leidos bring solutions to government partners to manage mental health and its relevance to overall health and well-being for soldiers, veterans, and their families. In this role, he seeks ways to engage people in their communities by leveraging the latest research and technology to collect information and provide targeted support resources that address their concerns and challenges with mental health. He is working with Leidos' customers to give people tailored content and ways to engage with the content to keep them interested and motivated to seek support when needed.
Transitioning to the next chapter of life
Since he retired from the military in 2021, he is still getting used to small changes, such as trying new haircuts, not wearing a hat every time he exits a building, and hearing people call him Dr. Lewis instead of Colonel. He suggests that soldiers need support when transitioning from active military status to a veteran lifestyle.
Lewis offers the following advice to soldiers transitioning to civilian roles:
"Be willing to learn, ask questions, and be flexible. It's a pretty exciting transition."
Lewis recently spoke at the AUSA Military Family Forum about the value of social connection for the military family community. View his speech here to learn more about how military families can stay connected and find available behavioral and mental health programs.