The idea behind the program is pretty simple: talking to a counselor is easier (and the advice seems more practical) when that person has personally experienced what you are struggling with.
Dealing with a counselor who has no military life experience can be a much different conversation than with one who does. The peer to peer program looks to capitalize on that feeling of empathy. If a OneSource user is just looking for someone to talk to about navigating the difficulties of military life, the peer-to-peer pool can be that expert listening ear.
"The consultants easily relate to the participant because they have firsthand military-life experience and can connect with service members and their spouses on a personal level," said Maj. Ben Sakrisson, a DoD spokesman. "A confidential peer-to-peer specialty consultation is a relaxed conversation that can be about the challenges of military life, such as deployments or frequent relocation."
The peer-to-peer program rolled out June 15.
The peer-to-peer counselors receive just as much training as the service's other counselors, including a six week intensive consultant training, officials said. In addition they must do a specialized in-person training on best practices in peer-to-peer support. Like all OneSource counselors, they are also required to have a Master's-level counseling credential, they said.
So far most of the OneSource callers who have asked for the peer-to-peer service are transitioning service members, Sakrisson said. But officials expect demand for the program to grow.
If you want to use OneSource's peer-to-peer service call the OneSource hotline -- 800-342-9647 -- between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET (when those counselors are available) and ask for it. Let us know if you like it!