I am part of several military spouse groups, as many of you probably are. While I don’t always engage, I have learned a bit from watching the interactions members have with each other.
But there is one question I see over and over again that I almost always chime in on. Not because I think I know better than someone else, but because I believe it is a shame that these services aren’t promoted, nobody knows they exist, and therefore service members and their families suffer.
And that question is: “My spouse and I are struggling. We don’t want to give up on each other, but we don’t know where to turn. Are there any marriage counseling services available for service members and their families?”
With all the resources that are available, it blows my mind that so few know they exist. Think of all the relationships that could be on better footing if these services were just advertised even a fraction more. So to promote awareness, here is a list of the counseling services that are available through the military.
Military Family Life Consultants (MFLCs)
MFLCs are social workers and licensed counselors that are contracted out by the military to provide free and 100 percent confidential counseling services. They are equipped to handle individual counseling, counseling for children, family counseling, and marriage counseling. If you are looking for them on post, they are generally housed by ACS. These individuals do not keep records and can meet you almost anywhere (except in your home).
Family Life Chaplains
Most soldiers know that chaplains have 100 percent confidentiality. Many are hesitant to seek out help from their unit chaplains. It may be because others can see the soldiers visit the office, or they may worry that the chaplains are not equipped to do formal counseling and will instead push religion down their throats. While it’s true that most chaplains only have a course or two in counseling during their seminary, there are chaplains on post (typically just one) who were sent to earn a degree in counseling and their sole responsibility is to provide marriage and family counseling services for free to all service members and their families. While yes, they are chaplains, they are not there to necessarily provide Christian counseling. I have worked with the family life chaplain’s office at two different posts and provided services through them.
If you are looking for other resources and providers that are outside of a military installation you can go to militaryonesource.mil and click on “Confidential Help.” There they have options for face-to-face counseling, online counseling, phone counseling, or video counseling. While I have no personal experience with using this resource, I know many people who have had lots of success using these services.
This is often the least favorite option for many service members is because it is provided through Tricare. Commanders know when you are receiving services here. However, sometimes they can be mandated, to receives PTSD treatment or help through the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program.
Regardless of the counseling assistance you need, any one of the organizations listed above can help you. They are here for you. Make the call and take the step down the pathway toward resolution.