Counselors Help with Post-deployment Transition

airman hugs wife

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- If military family life consultants had a motto, it might be: "Have counseling license -- will travel."

Consultants can meet with service members, Defense Department civilians or family members at just about any on- or off-base location, said Jodie Rhone, a school liaison officer at the Airman and Family Readiness Center here.

The consultants also follow strict confidentiality guidelines aside from duty-to-warn situations such as child abuse or spouse abuse, Rhone said.

"That's the real sell for a lot of people," he said. "They don't keep records, and it's short-term, solution-focused counseling."

MFLC programs include counseling for adults and children. Children's counselors can address school adjustment, deployment and separation, post-deployment adjustment, behavioral concerns, grieving for a lost loved one and daily life issues, according to MFLC publications.

The program has been available at the Academy for about five years, Rhone said. At the time, counselors were on 45-day rotations, but that changed to 90-day rotations about a year ago.

"It did provide a little more stability," he said. "It seemed like six weeks wasn't long enough for the consultants to get acquainted with their surroundings. We lost them the first week ... and the last week, they were in transition, so we really only had them for four weeks."

Each counselor generally schedules between 25 to 30 sessions per week, Rhone said, but not all of those sessions take place at the A&FRC.

"They have an office here, but they're available to meet at the Burger King or at a Starbucks off base," he said.

Consultants can also provide briefings for commander's calls, Rhone said.

"They have an entire library of topics and briefings," he said. "They brief at just about every program we have here: Smooth Move, pre- and post-deployment, transition assistance." Briefing topics include anger management for adults and children, communication, compassion fatigue for families caring for adult parents, conflict resolution, deployment and more.

"They're accessible to helping agencies, commanders, first sergeants," Rhone said. "They want to stay busy, and it's good to know that they're available and here to help."

Master Sgt. Alan Martin, the first sergeant for the Academy's command section, said military family life consultants are one of many valuable resources he's tried to let his Airmen know about.

"I've had very positive feedback from those who have chosen to visit an MFLC in my four years as a shirt," Martin said.

To contact a consultant, call 719-358-1468 or contact the A&FRC at 719-333-3444.

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