All in the family
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The old saying goes, "if the military wanted you to have a family, they would have issued you one." However, that ideology no longer exists and has been replaced by an effort to strengthen military service members and their families.

Studies show that family, financial and legal issues can cause anxiety and other mental health issues within the Marine Corps. If not identified early, these issues can lead to domestic violence, and in some cases suicide.

When domestic violence victims ask for help, it is usually not as a result of the worst incident they have dealt with at home, according to Kati Groseclose, education and prevention specialist on Henderson Hall.

"The victims usually have faced more difficult issues than what is reported," said Groseclose. "We teach coping skills as early on as possible, so as life happens Marines can deal with 'last straw incidents' and don't feel like they are unmanageable, and have the confidence and tools to cope."

From the junior service members to retirees, Henderson Hall Marine and Family Programs uses mental health research from universities and institutions along with programs developed on the joint base and other military installations to serve families' needs, according to Groseclose.

"The evidence-based research programs focus on work and family life at three levels of prevention universal, selected or indicated," said Groseclose. "We provide programs from Yale's consultation center within the division of prevention and community research."

Programs tailored by the behavioral health branch, or branches on other installations, are not based on researched-backed evidence. However, they have been proven to benefit specific community needs within the armed services, according to Groseclose.

"We serve the entire National Capital Region, every Marine north of Quantico," said Groseclose. "Including a couple units in Baltimore, reserve components and all of the Marines in the Pentagon."

Concerns brought to MCCS range from substance abuse, new family support and counseling for couples. These issues are found across the armed services, according to Groseclose.

"There is a certain level of stress that goes along with wearing a uniform," said Groseclose. "A lot of anxiety and anger problems come up, but we like to tell people anger is a normal emotion, it is all how you respond."

Resources are available for Marines, attached Sailors and their families dealing with mental health issues. Embedded providers, which are local installation civilian counselors, the DSTRESS line, 1-877-476-7734 and local military treatment facilities complement each other to create a network of support meanwhile the Marine Corps and Navy medicine continue to work together to identify and reduce gaps in psychological health prevention and treatment, according to Adam Walsh, community counseling and prevention, Marine and Family Programs Division Headquarters.

"The Marine Corps implements a public health model addressing the prevention, identification, treatment and reintegration phases of stress management," said Walsh. "This means that all Marines are provided training and education on identifying risk and protective factors related to behavioral health issues."

The behavioral health branch tackles those issues from a total health perspective, including proper nutrition, which is taught at a warriors at ease course that pairs healthy eating, anger management and yoga for warriors, according to Groseclose.

Marine and Family Programs' services are open to all service members, retirees and their families.

"All of our service members and their families in the National Capital Region are encouraged to reach out," said Groseclose. "We have programs for military families in all stages of life."