David W Alexander

Ph.D., D.Min.

Commander, Navy

Department of Primary Appointment:
School of Medicine
Military and Emergency Medicine
Assistant Professor of Military and Emergency Medicine
Location: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
Research Interests:
Spirituality and Human Performance, Spiritual Metrics
Psychosocial Care for Refugees, Migrants, and IDPs


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Centre for Trauma, Asylum & Refugees, University of Essex (United Kingdom), 2016
Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.), Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PA), 2009


David William Alexander is a Commander in the Navy Chaplain Corps, a Fleet Marine Force Qualified Officer, and a Marine Corps Static Line Parachutist. He has deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Southwest Asia in support of combat operations, and has participated in relief and development work in the rural American Arctic, Uganda, the Sudan, the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Cyprus, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Georgia, and Japan. Chaplain Alexander completed his social sciences education at Fordham University in New York (M.A.) and at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom (Ph.D.). He completed his graduate theological education at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (Th.M.), the Johns Hopkins Hospital (Clinical Pastoral Education Residency), and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (D.Min.). At USUHS he is involved with teaching, research, and ethics consultation in both clinical and research domains. He serves as Team Lead for Spirituality & Performance Research at the Consortium for Health & Military Performance.

Career Highlights: Positions, Projects, Deployements, Awards and Additional Publications

Special Tactics – Spiritual Readiness for Warfare. Research team lead and Principal Investigator, Consortium for Health & Military Performance. Funded by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. 2021-2022.

Working with Adversity Survivors in the Pacific Rim: Trauma & Adversity-Activated Development. Project leader. Funded by the University of Essex ESRC Impact Committee. 2015-2018.

Combat Deployment, 2013, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Helmand Province, Afghanistan).

Combat Deployment, 2010, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Helmand Province, Afghanistan).

Arctic Deployment, 2007, Coast Guard Seventeenth District (Bering Sea, Arctic Ocean).

Representative Bibliography

Alexander, D, and Deuster, P. “Aligning and Assessing Core Attributes of Spiritual Fitness for Optimizing Human Performance.” Journal of Special Operations Medicine, Vol. 21, No. 1, March 2021, 74-77.

Alexander, D, Abulhawa, Z, and Kazman, J. “The SOCOM Spiritual Fitness Scale: Measuring ‘Vertical’ and ‘ Horizontal’ Spirituality in the Human Performance Domain.” Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling, Vol. 74, No. 4, November 2020, 269-279.

Alexander, D. “Applications of the SOCOM Spiritual Fitness Scale: Program Development and Tailored Coaching for Optimized Performance.” Journal of Special Operations Medicine, Vol. 20, No. 3, Fall 2020, 109-112.

Alexander, D. “Walking Together in Exile: Medical Moral Injury and the Clinical Chaplain.” Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling, Vol. 74, No. 2, June 2020, 82-90.

Alexander, D. “From Theory to Impact: Expanding the Role of Non-Psychiatric Moral Injury Theorists in Direct Veteran Care.” Moral Injury and Beyond: Understanding Human Anguish and Healing Traumatic Wounds. R. K. Papadopoulos, Ed. Routledge Press (New York), April 2020.

Alexander, D. “When Seeing Does Harm: Avoiding Common Epistemological Dangers in Contemporary Refugee Research.” Journal of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, June 2019, 5-9.

Alexander, D. “Shay’s Thymos and Homer’s Thymos: How a Failure in Cross-Contextual Vigilance Has Limited the Contemporary Moral Injury Discourse.” Sophia Philosophical Review, Vol. XI, No. 2, Fall 2018, 41-56.

Alexander, D. “Defining and Differentiating Moral Injury’s Key Features.” Journal of Mental Health and Addiction Research, Vol. 3, No. 3, October 2018, 6-11.

Alexander, D. “Gregory is My Friend: on the Absorption of Evil in Combat.” War & Moral Injury: A Reader. Wipf & Stock Publishing Group (Eugene, OR), April 2018, 197-207.

Alexander, D. “Supervision & Refugee Care: Maintaining Complexity in a Causal-Reductive Environment.” Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision, Vol. 36, No 1, June 2016, 126-133.