From the Mailbag: How to Handle the Separation


We receive email like this one from CG, all the time:

Hi. My husband is enlisting with the Army as we speak. He leaves for Basic/A.I.T in May. We have been married 12 years and have 3 young children. With him down in **** right now doing MEPS is hard on me. What can I do to help myself get through him being gone during Basic?

Most of the email asks about how to get through a deployment (more on that later), but here we have a wife who has been married for quite a while and is just starting her journey into military life. On top of the inevitable deployments she will face, she is new to military culture. When I married my husband, he was already in the Army so we didn't take the plunge together, but I would say that CG is off to a good start. The fact that I received this email tells me she has been on the internet looking for places like this one where spouses congregate to share their experiences. Plus, she's asking for suggestions, which is wonderful. I'd definitely tell her to find a virtual community and dive right in.

Anyone have advice for a wife who is just entering the ranks?

This is a perfect time for me to write more about Marc Maxwell, an Army veteran and DoD guidance counselor. Marc is the author of the fabulous book, 365 Days: Surviving Military Separation. This is a daily activity guide for the families of deployed service members, a journal and so much more. I can't recommend this highly enough for those of you who are dealing with a deployment. We spoke with Mark a couple of weeks ago on SBTR and it was an interesting conversation. Marc gave us some valuable information that I was unaware of.

If you feel you need help, whether you feel overloaded, stressed-out, are having trouble with reintegration, whatever it is - the Army is now offering a program that will give you a few free, one-on-one sessions. The great thing about these sessions is that they are confidential and the counselor does not take notes, so there's no record of the visit. There is a stigma and a worry that seeking help will adversely affect the career of the service member. These sessions are for the spouse, children or the service member. Although the program is currently set-up for the Army, Marc tells us that nobody will be turned away.

I asked Marc when someone should seek help and his reply was simply - If you're at the point where you're even asking the question, then you should seek help.

More on the program below:

The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) recognized an emerging need to provide information support to Soldiers and families in addition to resident counseling services at installations. The Military Family Life Consultants (MFLC) Program uses licensed clinicians with Masters Degrees and at least five years experience in Social Work, Counseling, or related clinical discipline. Consultants are trained on military specific topics including basic orientation to the deployment cycle, military culture, the chain of command, and reporting requirements in accordance with Army Family Advocacy Program.

MFLC is an Army program designed to provide anonymous, confidential support to Soldiers and their family members, especially those returning from deployments. Units that return from deployment may request Life Consultants through Army Community Service. Program serves active duty and mobilized National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers and their families.

How Can MFLC Counselors Help?

MFLC Counselors can help you and your family problem solve with issues resulting from deployment, reunions, reintegration and other times of change including:

Marriage and Relationship Issues Family Issues Stress and Anxiety Depression Grief and Loss Anger management Parent and child communication

Soldiers and families are entitled to six prepaid, face-to-face counseling sessions. CALL: 1-888-755-9355

To listen to our 30 minute spot with Marc, click here.

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