By Devin Fisher, Fort Carson MountaineerApril 2, 2010
FORT CARSON, Colo.-Soldiers and Family members have a free and anonymous resource to help manage military lifestyle issues to include building resiliency, deployment stress, transition and reintegration.
The Department of Defense established the Military and Family Life Consultant Program in 2004 to provide military individuals, couples, Families and groups with nonmedical, short-term, situational, problemsolving coaching.
"It's a multiplier because with the growing population, growing demands and issues, (MFLC) provides another option for Soldiers and Families" to get behavioral health assistance, said Nathaniel Nugin, Fort Carson Mobilization and Deployment Program manager, who oversees the program.
Noting the MFLC Program offers walk-ins and can accommodate appointments within 24 hours of receiving a request, Nugin said the program "is closer to home" as it allows for more immediate response for people who have an area of concern.
"That kind of expeditious response ... makes this a really attractive program," he said.
MFLC consultants are master- or doctorate-level licensed clinical professionals who, in concert with existing military family support programs, provide nonmedical problem identification and life coaching services. They address relationships, stress management, grief after loss, occupational and other individual and Family issues, providing crisis intervention when needed, Nugin said. The service is completely anonymous except when state, federal and military reporting requirements dictate otherwise, such as incidents of child and domestic abuse, he said.
"It's great because it's confidential," said Nakia Robinson, who along with her husband, Spc. Dorian Robinson, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, sought relationship advice through the MFLC.
"We didn't have to wait for (the consultant) to scramble through notes (because they don't write anything down)," she said. "She remembered what we told her ... you could tell she cared."
Nakia said the couple was provided with several exercises which helped them work through their issue.
"It's helping us out a lot," she said. "We are now able to work through (the issue) in a positive way."
Nugin said many people believe that seeking behavioral health help can affect their careers in a negative way.
"That's their perception ...(but) that's not the case," he said.
The MFLC program provides education to help Soldiers and their Families understand the impact of stress, deployments and Family reunions following deployments and the stresses of military life. In addition to assisting with military lifestyle issues, the MFLC counselors also provide life skills services to include anger management, communication, conflict resolution, decision making, parenting, productivity at work and relationship issues, Nugin said.
Fort Carson began an MFLC pilot program in August 2005 with three consultants, but the demand and changing needs has evolved the program to 11 professionals today - six housed at Army Community Service and five embedded at the brigade level.
"The (program) just increases the resources that are out there for Families ... without them certainly it would be a little more challenging for Family members and Soldiers to get assistance with some of the issues that they might want (someone) to talk (with)," Nugin said.
Under the MFLC Program, individuals can be seen up to 12 times for a specific issue. If consultants determine long-term assistance is required, they conduct a "warm handoff " with the appropriate agency to ensure there is no gap in service, he said.
In order to maximize support to Guard and Reserve members, the MFLC provides educational presentations, briefings and counseling support for drill weekends and family events on topics to include deployment, reunion and reintegration, communication and grief and loss.