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Resiliency Programs for Military Families
Balancing the demands of a military career with family responsibilities can be challenging for many warriors and their families. It is common for military families to experience stress in response to times of transition, such as before, during and after deployment. The ability of military families to build resilience and overcome these barriers is critical to a warrior's psychological strength and mission readiness. There are numerous programs that can help military families build resiliency and thrive under the common pressures of military family life.
Read the Real Warriors Campaign article, Boosting Family Resilience, for tools and resources to improve your families' psychological health and fitness.
Non-Medical Counseling Resources for Military Families
Non-medical counseling is available through the Military Family Life Consultant (MFLC) program and through Military OneSource. These programs offer trained, licensed professional counselors for service members and their families to speak with free of charge for up to 12 sessions1. All information shared with the counselors is kept strictly confidential and off the record, except to meet legal obligations or prevent harm to self or others.2 Both programs strive to promote a culture that encourages service members and families to seek assistance when coping with the concerns of daily life, and to eliminate barriers that service members may feel prevent them from reaching out for help.3
Non-medical counseling supports military families with a variety of common concerns that occur within the military lifestyle, including:4
- Loss or grief
- Relocation adjustment concerns, including homesickness
- Stress reactions to the deployment cycle
- Stress reactions to reintegration and the transition from warrior to civilian
You can access Military OneSource non-medical counseling online, on the phone or face-to-face. To contact a MFLC, visit the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS database, select the Family Center program and enter your installation name or postal code. MFLC are available to meet in-person on or off the military installation. The sessions can occur in individual, couple, family or group settings through walk-in and flexible appointment times.5
To speak with trained professional immediately, all military families can call the numbers listed below, 24/7, free of charge:
Service-Specific Family Resiliency Resources
Air Force: The Air Force Airman & Family Readiness Center provides information and resources to support airmen and their families balance the demands of family and military life. The readiness center has different programs and services including deployment support, relocation assistance, personal financial management, employment assistance, family life education, information and referral and transition assistance.
Also, the Air Force Special Operations Command recently launched a new initiative called Preservation of the Force and Family Resiliency. The program will work to help airmen reduce stress they face related to high operational tempos by focusing on four key domains: human performance, psychological performance, spiritual performance and social performance. For more information, read the DoDLive blog post, Support for Special Operations Forces and Their Families.
Army: The Army Family Readiness Group offers numerous training programs to aid soldiers and their families through the different stages of a deployment. For example, their Family Resilience Training Modules educate soldiers and their families on how to prepare for and manage the realities of deployment and reintegration.
National Guard: The Joint Services Support's Family Program promotes readiness and quality of life for members of the National Guard and their families. Visit their Family Readiness System page to access a network of programs and services that can help service members develop new skills to tackle challenges in every stage of military life.
Marine Corps: The Marine Corps Family Program offers a variety of educational resources and services to boost the resilience of Marine Corps families. Visit their Family Team Building Center to learn more about the following programs: Family Readiness Program, Readiness & Deployment Support, Life Skills Training & Education and L.I.N.K.S. (Lifestyle Insights, Networking, Knowledge & Skills).
Navy: The Navy's Fleet and Family Support Program promotes self-reliance and resiliency for sailors and their families, personal and wellness education and counseling, emergency preparedness and response, spouse employment and financial education. Currently, there are 80 service delivery sites worldwide. To find a location near you, visit the directory.
"Our families are the bedrock of our nation's defense. Family members may not shoulder a weapon or fly combat sorties, but their commitment, support and endurance is a source of great pride and inspiration for us all."
— U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Real Warriors Campaign partner FOCUS Project (Families OverComing Under Stress) provides family resiliency training for military families to meet the challenges of military life. FOCUS Project offers two programs: FOCUS on Site and FOCUS World.5
FOCUS on Site provides military families with the opportunity to work in-person with a resiliency trainer at select military sites. FOCUS on Site educates spouses on how to cope with many of the changes accompanied with the stages of deployment including:
- Taking care of themselves while their spouse is deployed
- Managing children's behavior if they are acting out in school or home
- Supporting their deployed spouse if they are coping with combat stress
- Identifying if their spouse may need more assistance in managing stress
Further, FOCUS on Site helps children cope by showing children and teens:
- How to let their parents know when they are having a hard time coping with deployment or reintegration
- How they can keep in touch with their deployed parent
- How they can adapt to changes in family lifestyle while a parent is deployed
FOCUS World is an interactive, online educational tool that all military families can access by registering online. The tool is based on FOCUS on Site training and provides parents and kids a fun place to learn and practice important skills like emotional regulation, goal setting and communication. Through FOCUS World, parents can watch short videos that show helpful ways to manage common military family challenges, such as how to help children cope during a parent's absence. Parents can also download handouts that provide helpful education and activities for military families.
- Deployment Health and Family Readiness Library
- Military and Family Life Counselor Program [PDF 1.36 MB]
- Military OneSource
- National Military Family Association
- Parenting for Service Members and Veterans
- Human Performance Resource Center
1 Non-medical Counseling Options for Service Members and Families, Military OneSource. Last accessed on Nov. 25, 2013.
2 DoD Instruction 6490.06, Counseling Services for DoD Military, Guard and Reserve, Certain Affiliated Personnel, and Their Family Members, [PDF 92.78 KB] Defense Department. Published April 21, 2009; Incorporating Change 1: July 21, 2011.
3 Statement of Mr. Robert Gordon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy) before the Subcommittee on Military Personnel of the House Armed Services Committee, [PDF 315.2 KB] House Armed Services Committee. Presented Feb. 9, 2011.
5 FOCUS: Family Resiliency Training for Military Families, Project FOCUS. Last accessed on Nov. 25, 2013.