By Story by Maj. Alan BrownJanuary 12, 2010
FORT CARSON, Colo. - It is no secret that transitioning back home after a demanding, yearlong deployment is tough for Soldiers and their Families. Challenges concerning finances, relationships, and behavioral health can take toll on their quality of life. Unattended, these common and very normal life challenges add up and can affect unit readiness and morale.
Fortunately for Fort Carson Soldiers and their Families many of these everyday problems can be dealt with quickly and quietly by accessing the team of Fort Carson Military Family Life Consultants.
Since 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division returned from Iraq in September, a surge team of more than 20 consultants has provided confidential assistance to Soldiers and Families with common redeployment issues. MFLC surge teams are available to all redeploying brigades and remain with the unit for 90 days after redeployment.
"The Military Family Life Consultants have been an invaluable asset in helping our Soldiers make the transition home after their recent tour in Iraq," said Col. John S. Kolasheski, commander, 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div. "I view these professional consultants as a force multiplier that helps set the conditions necessary to allow us to begin training for future missions."
The 2nd BCT has strived to provide at least 30 minutes for every Soldier in the brigade to meet with a consultant and discuss any problems or concerns related to redeployment. The goal is to ensure Soldiers have access to resources that can assist them with common challenges relating to redeployment and reintegration.
"Everyone, regardless of rank or duty position, experiences challenges as we go through life. Soldiers owe it to themselves, their Family, and their unit to ask for assistance when needed," said Kolasheski. "Military Family Life Consultants are a great way for Soldiers to get the assistance that they require without worrying about being highlighted in front of their chain of command or peers."
According to the Department of Defense, Military Family Life Consultants are trained counselors whose mission is to provide confidential, non-medical support and counseling to military members, civilians and their Families.
Consultants are specifically trained to provide short-term, solution-based support with problems relating to, but not limited to, stress and anger management; grief/loss; deployments; parent/child relationships; couples' communication and marital issues; stressors relating to relocations; and financial challenges
MFL consultants have a strict confidentiality policy and will not disclose any information about their patrons to the chain of command, Fort Carson or the Army. As a result, consultants do not keep written records or report on the people they see.
Counselors are obligated to share information to prevent people from doing harm to themselves or others. They may also be required to disclose information for legal reasons.
MFLC services remain widely available across post for all military, government civilians and Family members at any time.
As of Oct. 13, each brigade combat team received a permanent Military Family Life Consultant. Brigade MFLCs work in the unit area and strive to become a familiar face. Their goal is to develop a strong relationship with the command and look for innovative ways to provide information and resources that benefit Soldiers and their Families.
Five consultants are also available through Army Community Service and can assist the entire Fort Carson community.
Convenience and flexibility are two important benefits MFL consultants offer. Counselors are available to meet community members on post or off post at a neutral location, depending on the client's comfort level. Consultants are also available to speak to small groups, either formal or informal, upon request.
The MFLC program also extends into three school districts serving Fort Carson. Seven full-time MFL consultants service 10 area primary and secondary schools in the following districts: Fountain/Fort Carson District No. 8; Harrison District No. 2; and Widefield District No. 3. For more information on the MFLC program within the schools, contact Carmelita Holien, school liaison officer, Child, Youth and School Services, at (719) 524-0642.
The MFLC program was established on Fort Carson in 2004, and began with three consultants, said Patricia Randle, director, Fort Carson ACS. Since then, she said, the program has grown exponentially.
"Military and Family Life Consultants have a positive impact and serve as a force multiplier in providing service to Soldiers and Families," she said.
The program is overseen by the Department of Defense and is intended promote a culture that encourages servicemembers to seek counseling or other assistance when they have a problem, she said. The program also seeks to eliminate the barriers servicemembers face in seeking help and strives to empower leaders to advocate for troops who may be interested in seeking counseling or other services.
For more information about services provided or to contact an MFL consultant at Fort Carson ACS, call (719) 338-7216.