By Crystal Lewis Brown, Fort Jackson LeaderMarch 10, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- From the brightly colored children's toys, to the plush sofas and even the numerous clocks decorating the walls of the conference room - everything in the newly opened Family Life and Resiliency Center works toward the center's mission: providing Soldiers, families and civilians a place where they can enhance physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual resiliency.
"That's our bread and butter," said Chaplain (Maj.) Charles Kuhlman, the family life chaplain who also runs the center. "That is what we do."
Though the FLRC opened officially this month, programs have been under way since January, Kuhlman said.
In addition to serving as a meeting place for several family and spiritual programs, the chaplain-led center offers confidential counseling.
"As we travel along the way, as we travel through our military journey and various transitions, we need help and at other times, we provide help," Kuhlman said, quoting the center's mantra.
"One of the unique (aspects) that chaplains provide to the FLRC is that they have a theological grounds in and the clinical training to deal with the (practical) approach and spiritual aspect of it," he said.
Kuhlman added that just because chaplains conduct the counseling doesn't mean that it is a strictly "religious" program.
"There isn't any pushing," he said. "We meet the individuals where they are."
Before receiving counseling, each person is asked to fill out an intake form in which they are asked a series of questions, including some that are faith related. This allows chaplains to better come up with a treatment plan that includes a faith-based approach, or not.
The chaplains who provide counseling are family-life trained, which means that in addition to their usual chaplain training, they have finished a condensed 15-month training that includes an on-the-job internship with face-to-face counseling. After finishing the training, the chaplains meet the clinical requirements for counseling in most states.
Angela Piekielko, an Army veteran, spouse and mother of two young boys, said the FLRC offers families a much-needed resource.
"This sounds amazing," said Piekielko, who has been at Fort Jackson for more than a year and is active in the Protestant Women of the Chapel. "I think there are a lot of families here who are struggling. We don't (always) see a (big) need here for family life help ... because we're a TRADOC post.
"When families go through a deployment, then get stationed here and their (Soldier) is a drill sergeant, that's stressful."
She added, "This could really help so many families who are struggling here. Being a spouse, and meeting all these women and just talking to them; they're hurting."
While Piekielko appreciates the religious aspect of the FLRC, she said she is glad that it is still an inclusive resource.
"I think that's one of the good things about this; it can be spiritual, but (doesn't) have to be. This is going to be an amazing thing for our families, as long as they use it. I think this will really help people with their spiritual walks, regardless of what their faith is."
Chaplain (Maj.) Carl Rosenberg, who teaches the Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, said the center also serves as a learning opportunity for the post's chaplains.
"The piece that I'm very excited about is the continued enhancement of pastoral skills for our chaplains," he said. "We help chaplains improve their skills.
Part of Rosenberg's duties include supervising more junior chaplains, and providing assistance when needed.
Both Rosenberg and Kuhlman hold master's degrees in counseling, with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy. And Rosenberg is a diplomate supervisor in the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, which means he has undergone additional training to be a clinical supervisor.
Though Rosenberg and Kuhlman may intervene and provide their knowledge to help another chaplain, if necessary, counsel a client, Kuhlman maintains that confidentiality is always kept.
"The bottom line is, what you say here, stays here," he said.
That confidentiality is necessary, he says, to help further alleviate any stigma associated with seeking counseling.
"Building your ... resiliency is looked at as a positive thing, not a negative thing. The individual who is a better wife, a better husband; an individual who works on his or her personal relationships will (also) be a better member of the workforce."
Rosenberg said that the center is also a conduit for those who may want to seek behavioral health help, but are fearful.
"We are a bridge between the medical care and (the client)," he said. "We can help lower people's inhibitions about seeking care. We're a live 'military one source,'" he said.
Those who need additional counseling may be referred to another agency as necessary, Rosenberg said. Currently, the FLRC offers counseling services by appointment only.
But the FLRC isn't only about counseling. Already, groups such as the A.T. E.A.S.E spouse's organization and Club Beyond, a youth ministry, meet in the building. Brown-bag lunches and other workshops aimed at improving resilience are in the works.
The key, said Kuhlman, is to take a proactive approach.
"We're double-stitching the seams," he said.
Rosenberg shared a similar sentiment, adding that their jobs are to enrich the Fort Jackson community.
"We are passionate about helping families live healthy, rich lives."
Editor's note: To make an appointment to speak with a counselor at the Family Life and Resiliency Center, call 751-4966/4949. The FLRC is located next to the Strom Thurmond Building, off Marion Avenue.