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Peter McNelis


Pioneering Contributions


Peter McNelis has led the development, in both civilian and military sectors, of research and education focused on military families. As director of the Military Family Institute at Marywood College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he established a Department of Defense-sponsored research center with a focus on families. McNelis also designed and directed a multi-agency, multi-phased research program at Fort Detrick in Maryland.  He has published extensively on military families, helping to promote their health and welfare.


Career Highlights


During the 1980s, McNelis served as director of Human Performance Research at Ft. Detrick, Maryland; served as the director of the Military Family Resource Center based at the Pentagon; and as a senior policy analyst at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense’s Preventive Medicine and Health Promotion Office.  His duties included developing and recommending health-related policy and programs to enhance the health and functioning of the military family and community, and overseeing the development of a family violence program within the Department of Defense.  He also served as a social worker and consultant at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii and a consultant to the Chief Surgeon at Heidelberg, Germany.


McNelis taught at Marywood College from 1993 until his retirement.  He established a research center in conjunction with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense.  Prior to that, he taught at the University of New England Graduate School of Social Work, where he also helped establish an accredited graduate school of social work and participated in curriculum design and development.


Biographic Data


McNelis earned his DSW form Tulane University in Louisiana in 1972.  He received his MSW from Fordham University in New York in 1963 and his BA from Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1961.


Significant Achievements and Awards


Peter McNelis was elected to membership in the following organizations:

Who’s Who in the East

Who’s Who Among Emerging Leaders

Who’s Who in the West

Who’s Who Among Human Service Professionals

Who’s Who in the Americas


McNelis was on the editorial board of Practice Digest from 1981 to 1983, the chairman of the board of directors at Hawaii Society for Hospital Social Work Directors from 1980 to 1982 and the president of the European chapter of the National Association of Social Workers from 1975 to 1977.


He served 25 years on active duty in the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Army.  He received the Army Commendation Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster) in 1974 and the Army Commendation Medal in 1969 as well as the Meritorious Service Medal in 1978 and Meritorious Service Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster) in 1982.


Significant Publications


McNelis, P.J. & Garber, D.L. (1995). Military social work.  In Encyclopedia of Social Work, 19th edition, Volume 2. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.


McNelis, P.J. (1988). Military installation teams. In The New Child Protection Handbook, (Donald C. Bross et al., Editors), New York, NY: Garland Publishing.


McNelis, P.J. & Awalt, S.J. (1986). Project SAFE: An armed forces cooperative initiative for the prevention and treatment of family violence. Evaluation and Program Planning, 9(3), 233-241.


McNelis, P.J. (1985). Military families: Caring for our own. Psychotherapy and Private Practice, 3(2), 79-86.



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