Heritage: Fall 2021

John Manning taking blood from a fellow member of the armed forces.

John Manning: Serving Our Soldiers

John Manning
’17, PhD Clinical Psychology
United States Army Behavior Health Officer and Clinical Psychologist, Fort Wainwright, AK

Being stationed in Alaska every day looks a little different for John Manning. During the summers at the base, a “day” can last for weeks because the sun never sets. This is when he can enjoy camping, fishing and hiking in his personal time with family.

Other times, when it calls for him to be deployed to the middle of a combat zone overseas, his career can lead to dark and dangerous areas.

No matter where he is located, Manning is constantly working to improve lives through mental health as a behavior health officer and clinical psychologist for the United States Army’s 25th Infantry Division.

“It is hard for soldiers to say, ‘Hey, I’m struggling.’ We understand the stigma behind it. One of the best ways to fight that stigma is to go out and meet them where they are,” Manning said. “You develop more credibility. It shows that we are human, we can fill sandbags too, we can turn a wrench.”

Much of Manning’s duties are to train civilians, soldiers, and military leaders in Alaska, but many of his best times on the job happen during deployment.

The coolest part of my job is being with the soldiers, because that is where I feel I can make the most impact. John Manning

“The coolest part of my job is being with the soldiers, because that is where I feel I can make the most impact,” Manning said. “The best conversations I’ve had have been in guard towers in Iraq. That is where real conversations happen. I go to them, assess their needs, drop just a little bit of knowledge on them and help develop their skills to succeed in Army life, personal life, whatever it is that is the stress point.”

Manning says he truly appreciated SHSU’s military friendly policies and support during his time in the doctoral program.

“I was in the Army Reserve as a company commander at the time,” Manning said. “They supported me. They understood that my career mattered and provided me flexibility if the Army called on me to be gone for periods of time. The commitment and focus that Sam Houston State has in supporting veterans and soldiers was hugely helpful.”