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Military & Family Life Counselors and Military Kids Reunite on Zoom

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(Mackenzie Richardson/DVIDS)

When my oldest started kindergarten he was in a small school on a military installation surrounded by military kids. He fit right in. It wasn't until fourth grade that he experienced things like living off post, going to a school that wasn't full of military kids and moving across the country.

During that year at a "real" public school our family went through a lot of firsts. It was the first time we lived off the installation in almost 10 years, the first time we rented a house, the first time our Army Brats were in the minority.

And it was the first time I learned about how a Military & Family Life Counselor could help my kiddos.

When I was a Family Readiness Group leader a decade ago, I'd invite MFLCs to everything. They were just the people you wanted to carry around in your pocket, so to speak, because they could handle anything. I'm not sure why I didn't think about that when it came to my kids.

After yet another move, we connected with the MFLC at our new duty station. While my kids’ level of need has changed, we still value them for their insight.

And now, in the midst of a new season of challenges for everyone, we’ve found another reason to love the MFLCs where we are: they're meeting with students online. Thank goodness for telehealth and the non-medical counseling options we have.

My kids are experiencing screen fatigue. They're tired of massive, chaotic google hangouts with their classmates. They want smaller, more intimate gatherings. And they miss the people who were regulars in their lives.

One of my children logged into a secure Zoom call today to meet with the MFLC from their school. I'm really not sure who was more excited. The MFLC misses their students just as much as these students miss them.

They chatted about what was going on at home, about how they were feeling, about the struggles of cleaning their room when mean old mom required it. When they were done, my child said, "It was so nice to talk to someone who isn't in this house who knows me."

Mission accomplished.

MFLCs across the country are available for just this. Here are some of the details I received from the school:

Due to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, MFLCs and Child and Youth Behavioral MFLCs (CYB-MFLCs) will be able to temporarily provide telehealth services to your military community. These services include telephonic and video non-medical counseling in areas where face-to-face support is restricted due to COVID-19. We are pleased to announce this temporary capability to provide continuity of care in your local community.

The model of MFLC and CYB-MFLC telehealth is below.

Support for Adults:

· Telephonic and video non-medical counseling

Support for Children and Youth:

· Individual video non-medical counseling sessions for minors age 13 to 17 (parent or guardian must be available at the start of each video session to give parental consent and provide line of sight requirements)

· Family video non-medical counseling for minors 6 to 12 years of age (parent or guardian must attend each session)

With this information, I simply called the MFLC for our school and set up an appointment. I logged in with my child and then let them chat. It was the best thing I've done the entire time, my only regret was not reaching out immediately.

Give your on-base MFLC support center a call, or buzz Military OneSource for more information about mental health support where you live.

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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at rebecca.alwine@monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.

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