By Airman 1st Class Timothy McCarthy
4th Space Operations Squadron
The Air Force community has been struck by many unfortunate circumstances this year: thirty-one plus suicides, countless car accidents and other personal situations. Whether the problem is with a significant other, children, deployment or anything in between, the Military and Family Life Consultant program can help.
This program is designed specifically to provide short term, situational and personal counseling services to both servicemembers and their families. This can be accomplished on or off base and on or off duty. Its purpose is to augment existing military support services. It offers non-medical treatment only. Counselors also remain anonymous to maintain patient privacy.
Nancy Seckman, Airman and Family Readiness Center, community readiness consultant, said the program has many benefits including qualified counselors.
“They are all experienced licensed mental health providers who can assist with creating behavioral plans and problem solving,” Ms. Seckman said.
The counselors have extensive training and are practitioners in the mental health field. They have master’s degrees or PhD’s, and are also licensed clinical counselors.
There are some key differences between visiting the MFLC and seeing a Mental Health provider. According to the local A&FRC representative, the MFLC is only a mandated reporter of child abuse, domestic abuse and duty-to-warn situations. Outside of these few situations, seeing the counselor is completely confidential and private, no records are kept, and what is discussed will not be reported to the chain of command.
“They are mandated reporters if someone states that they are a threat to themselves or others, if they report child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, sexual assault, or if they make direct statements about homosexuality, “Ms. Seckman said. “Also, MFLC’s cannot see people who are already in “the system” which means that they have an open case with the Air Force or are already seeing a behavioral health provider. Otherwise, they keep no records and no identifying information is reported to command.”
A secondary goal of this Department of Defense program is to encourage service members to seek counseling or help when dealing with any issues concerning their life on and off duty.
The counselors are not permanent; they work on 45-day rotations and this helps ensure the privacy of the visits and reinforces the short term care the program is intends to provide. The counselor does not get attached to their patients, or vice versa.
The counselors are recruited from non-local areas. This helps create more security for the servicemember and their family. Their personal information will not become gossip, and the likelihood of seeing the counselor around town is significantly diminished.
“[The Military Life Consultants are recruited] through DoD contractors,” Ms. Seckman said. “They are placed where resources are needed the most.”
Individuals who would like to take advantage of this program can utilize the walk-in hours, which are between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. every day at the chaplain’s office in Building 300. Appointments can be made through the A&FRC by calling 651- 3379.