FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker’s Military and Family Life Counseling counselors are standing by to help the community’s Soldiers and family members, including children, deal with life’s challenges, and in-person service is once again available.
What was once a popular service for Soldiers and family members to receive non-medical, confidential counseling on a variety of life’s stresses, saw its popularity decrease severely during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Kent Thompson, Fort Rucker Directorate of Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Army Community Service chief.
Thompson said when COVID restrictions were put into place on post and counselors were not allowed to meet with people in person, MFLC’s business took a steep drop because people were reluctant to engage in “telehealth counseling.”
Fort Rucker counselors had about 1,700 contacts with people on a variety of topics, ranging from relationship issues, to deployment stress issues, to employment issues and general emotional support issues, in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019. That number dropped to 75 contacts with the in-person prohibition in place, according to Thompson.
“The evidence showed me people do not trust doing telehealth as much as they trust talking to people in person,” he said. “We’re trying to get the word out that the MFLCs are back, and available in person. They can do appointments just about any time, and while they cannot go to your house, they will meet you pretty much anywhere you want to meet that is safe and somewhat private. They can even meet with you on weekends in special situations.”
All non-medical counselors are master’s- or doctorate-level professionals with experience in a mental health-related field, and have a license or certification to practice independently, according to a fact sheet on the program available at www.MilitaryOneSource.mil. All counselors have undergone a background check, and have focused training on military culture and military life.
Non-medical counseling is confidential, short-term counseling that addresses common emotional and interpersonal concerns that may detract from military and family readiness. Counseling services are available worldwide, up to 12 sessions per person, per issue, through two Department of Defense-funded programs — Military OneSource and Military and Family Life Counseling, according to the fact sheet.
Non-medical counseling is confidential; however, counselors are required to report situations that include harm to self or others, domestic abuse, child abuse or neglect, sexual assault against any person, and any present or future illegal activity.
According to the fact sheet, non-medical counseling is good for the following.
• Marital or relationship issues
• Child social skills
• Effectively dealing with children
• Stress management
• Parent-child relationship issues
• Anger management
• Grief or loss
• Deployment or reintegration
• Academic problems
According to the fact sheet, situations outside the scope of non-medical counseling include the following.
• Active suicidal or homicidal thoughts
• Crisis situations
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• Traumatic Brain Injury
• Substance abuse and addiction
• Domestic abuse and child abuse
• Fitness-for-duty evaluations
• Long-term counseling
Situations involving these issues should be referred to military treatment facilities, TRICARE, or other providers of mental health services. MFLC counselors can also refer people to appropriate agencies if they can’t fully help them, Thompson added.
Contact information for Fort Rucker’s counselors are available on the ACS website at https://rucker.armymwr.com/programs/army-community-service. People can also make an appointment by calling 1-800-342-9647 or start a live chat at www.MilitaryOneSource.mil.