Psychologist killed in VA shooting was a ‘brilliant clinician’
Timothy Fjordbak, PsyD, was shot and killed on Jan. 6 by
an Iraqi war veteran at the El Paso Veterans Affairs Health
Care Systems Clinic at Fort Bliss in Texas, where he was chief
psychologist. He was 63. The shooter was a former clerk at the
clinic and his motives were unclear, investigators said.
Fjordbak was a member of Div. 40 (Society for Clinical
Neuropsychology) and had recently completed his master’s
degree in psychopharmacology in December at New Mexico
State University (NMSU). He was an advocate for prescription
privileges for psychologists, which are available in only three
states, and had recently convinced several other psychologists
in the VA system to study psychopharmacology, says Stephen
Colmant, PhD, a colleague at the clinic.
“He was going to be an exemplar for us, because he was
a chief of psychology in the VA system, had a background in
neuropsychology, and was perhaps days away from getting his
license to prescribe,” says Elaine LeVine, PhD, former director
of the NMSU psychopharmacology program.
Fjordbak earned his doctoral degree at the University of
Denver. Before leaving to work with veterans, he had a private
practice for decades in Georgia. Colleagues and friends describe
him as humane, caring, perceptive and dedicated, with a gentle
demeanor that he brought to his work.
He did his prescribing practicum at Mescalero Public Health
Service Indian Hospital in New Mexico, where his kindness
“made a tremendous impact on our staff and our patients,” said
Robert Chang, PhD, a colleague there, on a virtual memorial
Known as “F.J.” to his colleagues at the veterans’
clinic, Fjordbak was exceptionally knowledgeable about
neuroscience, they say, including traumatic brain injury.
He was “a great guy who really cared about the veterans.
He would go above and beyond to make sure we provided
humanistic care. Although we focused on exams, he was
sensitive to making sure veterans got into treatment when
they needed it,” Colmant says.
A new NMSU Foundation scholarship in Fjordbak’s name
will support a psychologist studying for prescriptive authority
who works or plans to work in public service.
“Tim was a brilliant clinician who was kind, compassionate,
and dedicated. He worked hard to make sure our veterans got
the benefits they deserved,” LeVine says. “To honor him is first
to recognize and celebrate his deep humanitarian spirit and
accomplishments, and also to reaffirm what he and all of us are
trying to accomplish.”
Contributions may be made at http://fndforms.nmsu.edu/
giving/php or mailed to College of Education, Office of the
Dean, Tim Fjordbak Scholarship Fund, MSC 3AC, New Mexico
State University, P.O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003-9984.
— Stacy Lu
Dr. Timothy Fjordbak was killed on Jan. 6.
“To honor him is first to
recognize and celebrate his
deep humanitarian spirit
and accomplishments, and
also to reaffirm what he
and all of us are trying to
Elaine LeVine, PhD