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Military Family Consultants offer lending hand, lifestyle coaching

23 Apr 2013 | By Lance Cpl. Reba James

Thousands of U.S. military families across the country endure month after month as single parent homes due to military deployments, separations and divorce. Even more military families face the challenge of relocating every three years to start again in a new city, new school system and a new community, often living long distances from close family and friends. All of these challenges can build strong, resilient military families but for many others it can have a distressing impact.

Luckily for service members and their families aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, they now have access to Military Family Life Consultants (MFLCs) to help weather the storm.

“MFLCs are not new to the Marine Corps, but they are new to MCAS Yuma,” said Elena A. McShane, School Liaison at MCAS Yuma.

The program provides brief, non-medical, short-term and solution-focused counseling. MFLCs are on call to aid service members and their families during transition points and their reactions to the varied stressors of military life.

“MFLCs are well-rounded in their professional training, which allows them to help service members and their families on a variety of personal issues ranging from deployment challenges, reintegration, marital, financial and addressing children’s behavioral concerns,” said McShane.

All MFLCs are licensed clinicians with at least five years of experience in social work, counseling or a related clinical discipline. These consultants are trained to provide services on an outreach, rotational, or on- demand schedule. Additionally, in order to provide flexibility and privacy, consultants are open to meet with military members and their families on or off the air station.

“We have five MFLCs located at MCAS Yuma,” said Bonni J. Stephenson, the regional supervisor for Military & Family Life Counseling. “Two of them work with the adult population and three of them work in the schools.”

As of October 2011, the Department of Defense (DOD) for military family and personnel programs has increased MFLC assignments to support the influx of military members returning home from deployments and transitioning to new duty stations or leaving the service. MFLCs are now in place to augment existing military support services offered here at MCAS Yuma and are free of charge for all military members and their families.

“MCAS Yuma was only able to receive one MFLC per summer for three months for the child, youth, and teen center, but MCAS Yuma now rates a total of six that are distributed in different areas,” said McShane.

According to MARADMIN 075/13, the increase in MFLCs are at no cost to the Marine Corps and are solely funded by the DOD. The increase of MFLCs to the Marine Corps is intended to support behavioral health efforts, installations and operational forces, as well as the child, youth and teen programs.

Some of the non-medical counseling services the MFLCs provide are classes and help with life skills such as anger management, communication, relationship issues, productivity at work, parenting skills, decision making and conflict resolution.

Other non-medical counseling services MFLCs provide help with deployment stress, coping skills, homesickness, relocation adjustment and reintegration. They also provide support services dealing with separation, building resiliency, sadness, grief, loss and emotional well being which are all a part of the military lifestyle.

“The MFLC program is a valuable addition to our existing Behavioral Health support services which are provided to our MCAS Yuma families,” said McShane.

Services that MFLCs provide are not only for the service members. They also help their families and children dealing with the impacts of a military lifestyle.

Three MFLCs have been assigned to Palmcroft Elementary, Sunrise Elementary and Woodard Middle School. The MFLCs are there for students on a full-time basis and provide non-medical counseling services to military children, parents and school staff by addressing the impacts of military life.

The Child and Youth Behavioral Program is a component of what MFLCs provide that specialize in child and youth behavioral issues and provide a broad range of support.

Child and youth behavioral MFLCs engage in activities with the children and youth to provide direct intervention in classrooms, camp or family childcare situations. They are also available to assist staff in setting and managing boundaries, and help with model behavioral techniques and provide feedback to staff.

“Staff and counselors at the schools are thankful for the services the MFLCs provide because they help provide support, especially when the support staff is overwhelmed,” said McShane. “Those who use the program have seen nothing but positive results.”

MFLCs are available to school, camp or family childcare staff to discuss interactions with children and their concerns. They have outreach programs for parents, conduct parent and staff training sessions and facilitate psycho-educational groups at child and youth program sites.

Other services provided by the child and youth behavioral program MFLCs include school adjustment issues, deployment and separation and reunion issues for children. They also provide sibling and parent- child communication issues, behavioral concerns, fear, grief and loss and daily life issues.

MFLCs are mandated reporters of child abuse, domestic abuse and other duty to warn situations; otherwise all services are private and confidential. They are available after hours and on weekends by appointment for service members and their families.

MCAS Yuma’s consultants are located at building 240, behind the station post office and can be contacted at (928) 245-6057 or (928) 246-6591.

Parents can reach MFLCs at the below listed schools:

Woodard School: 928-245-6578
Sunrise Elementary: 928-245-6564
Palmcroft Elementary: 928-245-6081

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