As many of you are, I am part of several military spouse groups. While I don’t always engage, I have learned quite a bit just 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% 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.
- Family Life Chaplains- Most soldiers know that chaplains have 100% confidentiality as well, but are hesitant to seek out help from their unit chaplains because often their offices are very close to the commander’s office and so they may be seen going to and from appointments. Or they may worry that the chaplains are not equipped to do formal counseling and rather will just 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 for 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.
- Military OneSource- If you are looking for other resources and providers that are outside of the military post 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.
- And the least favorite option for many service members is Behavioral Health– The reason is that since it is provided through Tricare, commanders know when you are receiving services here. However, sometimes they can be mandated, such as ASAP (alcohol or substance abuse program) or PTSD treatment.