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Counseling Options

As a sponsored family member you have several options if you are in need of counseling services.

A first option is to utilize the program through Military OneSource.

When there is a need, a consultant can refer a service member or eligible family member to a licensed professional counselor in the local community for six sessions per issue at no cost to the military or family member. Call 800-342-9647 for more information.

An update to the above paragraph is that Military OneSource Expands Counseling Sessions.

Eligible service members and their families may now receive 12 sessions per person, up from 6 sessions, per issue, and per counselor within 120 days.

A second option is to utilize Tricare behavioral health care from a military treatment facility (MTF) when available, or from a Tricare network provider. Dependants covered under Tricare Prime, Prime Remote, Extra, Standard and the U.S. Family Health Plan can receive eight counseling sessions at no cost by self-referring to a Tricare network provider. If there is a counselor in your area that accepts Tricare, all you need to do is call them and set up appointments to take advantage of your eight sessions. If you are unsure which providers in your area accept Tricare, call your local or regional Tricare office and they will help you.

For more information and definitions on the types of providers see the Tricare Behavioral Health Services Brochure.

A third option for some Army spouses is to utilize Soldier and Family Life Consultants.

The Soldier and Family Life Consultants initiative offers free, anonymous support to active-duty Soldiers, National Guardsmen, reservists and their families.

As of June 2006there are currently 75 SFLC at 18 locations in CONUS and 44 SFLC at 24 locations in Europe.

Also available for all military branches is the online self-screening program. This program is set up to help service members and their spouses overcome and confront possible mental-health problems. It is available available 24/7 and provides anonymity.

Another resource for family members as well as soldiers is a program called "Battlemind." During the 45-minute training, soldiers see a video with examples of behaviors, like a soldier snapping at his son who had asked him to shoot some hoops. The training also talks about issues such as using alcohol to go to sleep or to calm down.

It explains what behaviors are natural, and “gives permission for them to notice it’s becoming a problem,” said Army psychiatrist Col. Charles Milliken.

Milliken also encourages troops and their spouses to download the program – designed for them to watch together – at Battlemind.org.

More couneling options for Reserve Component Members who have separated from active duty and their families are listed here.

National Guard and Army Reserve Units in Hawaii, Arkansas and Idaho can also take advantage of Soldier and Family Life Consultants.

Bereavement Counseling and assistance is now being offered to parents, spouses and children of armed forces personnel who died in service to our country.

Also eligible are family members of military reservists and National Guard personnel who die while on active duty. Services are obtained by contacting Readjustment Counseling Service at (202) 273-9116 or via electronic mail at vet.center@hq.med.va.gov both of which are specific to this specialized service.

For more information:
Vet Center Web Site
VA Center Locations
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) web site – Benefits Information for National Guard and Reserve Personnel

The Red Cross offers confidential services to all military personnel – active duty, National Guard and Reserves – and their families. Counseling, guidance, information, referrals and other social services are available through our worldwide network of chapters and offices on military installations. Red Cross chapters are listed in local telephone books and at http://www.redcross.org/where/where.html.

As more and more National Guard and Reserve units are called to full-time duty status, counseling has become increasingly important to prepare the civilian-based military members and their families for the period of activation. Because members of the National Guard and Reserve typically live in civilian neighborhoods, they and their families frequently have difficulty accessing much-needed, military-related social services.

**UPDATES**

Military OneSource to Offer New Consultation Program

Due to the need for increased counseling resources identified at the HQ EUCOM Quality of Life conference, OSD has contracted with Military One Source for a new consultation program. Starting October 15, 2007, Military OneSource will offer a Short-Term Solution Focused Telephonic (STSF-T) Consultation Program. The STSF-T Consultation Program will include up to six sessions per person per issue and will be consistent with the in-person counseling service available via Military OneSource in CONUS. The STSF-T Consultation Program is effective in helping individuals resolve issues such as: adjustment to situational stressors, stress management, decision making, communication, grief, blended-family issues, and parenting-skills issues. The toll-free numbers from each country as well as other information on Military One Source is available by logging on to www.militaryonesource.com.

Mental health groups join forces for troops

A coalition of mental health groups announced plans Monday to establish a nationwide network of psychiatrists, psychologists and other experts to provide free counseling to combat veterans and their families.

"Citizen soldiers have had extended, long deployments, and that has created a difficult situation for them and for their families," said Dr. Richard Harding, president of the American Psychiatric Foundation. "Those people need help … and we have a duty to take care of them."

The groups’ goal is to enlist about 40,000 mental health professionals – about 10 percent of the nationwide force – to donate time and services to individual veterans, their families, or veterans groups.

The resources would be in addition to services already provided by the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs agencies, especially in areas with long wait times or long travel distances for servicemembers to easily take advantage of those official medical treatment options.

Dr. Barbara Romberg, president of the Give an Hour Foundation, said more than 1.6 million servicemembers have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the last seven years, and studies show at least 20 percent have battled with anxiety, depression and serious stress disorders since their return.

Those figures don’t include family members, who can also suffer mental health issues when their loved ones are sent to war.

"But there is reason for hope and optimism," she said. "We know so much more today about mental health in general and about conditions like PTSD. We know that post-traumatic stress disorder doesn’t need to turn into a chronic illness."

Her group currently has about 1,200 licensed professionals donating an hour a week to counsel servicemembers and their families.

The Eli Lilly foundation donated $1 million to the effort at the event. Project officials said the funds will be used for public awareness and servicemember outreach programs, as well as recruiting more counselors throughout the country.

To find a counselor in your area, or to volunteer services to the mental health counseling project, visit www.giveanhour.org.

About Love My Tanker

I am an Active Duty Army Wife. I have enjoyed living in the US and overseas. I have volunteered in many realms over the years with various FRGs, Sew Much Comfort and a Wounded Warrior Equine Therapy program. I consider myself lucky to have been a part of the SpouseBUZZ family since 2006.

I homeschool my children and continue to love volunteering when time allows. The Army life is a busy life, but a good life!