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Pope offers program to help ease stress of military life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mindy Bloem
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
Gone are the days of feeling embarrassed about seeing a counselor to help you cope with certain life issues. Pope members can now enjoy a program that keeps anonymity and privacy paramount. 

In response to the stress that deployments often have on military members and their families, The Department of Defense has established The Military and Family Life Consultant program. The program provides non-medical counselors to discuss issues that are troubling an individual. 

A military member, spouse or child who would like to discuss a particular problem with one of these counselors can do so without fear of penalty. 

"The only time MFLCs are required to report on anything is in regards to a duty-to-warn situation -- such as child abuse or domestic violence," said Joyce Young, a consultant for the program. 

Currently, there are three MFLCs on Pope. Two of the consultants deal with children's issues, while one deals with adult issues. 

The program is completely confidential and all sessions are not recorded. In fact, individuals who want to see a practitioner do not have to meet at a specified location but can meet at an on- or off-base location if they wish, said Wayne Hill, Airman and Family Readiness Center Chief. 

All of the program consultants are masters or Ph.D.-level licensed clinical counselors, and many even have private practices when not participating in this government-operated program. 

"It gives us the chance to serve and do our part in helping the military who is doing so much for us," Ms. Young said. "I feel as if I am doing my part -- doing something that is very much needed. It helps the services, helps the country, and most of all, it helps the troops." 

Another benefit of the program is the timely turnover. Every 45 to 60 days, the MFLCs rotate out. They switch places with other practitioners who are at other service locations. The program is so widespread now that almost every Air Force base has it, including overseas locations. 

Part of the reason for the turnover is a person who opts to share delicate details about their life does not have to feel awkward about seeing the counselor around base. Another reason is if a person doesn't feel helped by one particular practitioner, there is a better likelihood they will feel helped by the next one. 

The practitioners don't report any names of the individuals they see. The information they record is simply broad category statistics, such as how many couples were seen, how many children, how many individuals, etc. 

Mr. Hill said military spouses and children can also take advantage of the program.
"Mental health on base is for active duty only, but this program allows for spouses and children to make appointments too," he said. "The program bridges the gap between the military and the spouse." 

Since the program is free and offers people a private means to get the help they need, there is no reason why people should not take advantage of it, Mr. Hill said.
"What jumps out at you is that they're helping people," he added. "And when someone is in distress and they go to talk to a counselor, they are taking strides to make things better." 

To schedule a free and anonymous meeting with a counselor, call (910) 987-4115.