By Kevin Gaddie, Team Eglin Public Affairs
/ Published October 02, 2019
Military and family life counselors offer short-term, non-medical counseling to service members and their families for life issues. (Courtesy photo)
Military and family life counselors offer short-term, non-medical counseling for life issues.
MLFC services are also available to retirees, up to six months after retirement.
“The military is a culture where people feel they have to be tough enough to handle anything, internalize their issues and keep going,” said Renata Chambers, one of three MFLCs here. “Many service members and families don’t always know how to deal with problems that may arise.”
Among the many challenges patrons often face are: reintegrating into family life or with a partner after a deployment, permanent changes of station, communication and stress management, Chambers said.
MFLCs offer a safe, relaxed, casual environment for people to talk about their problems without note taking or paper trails, she said.
Discussions are confidential, except when someone has thoughts or plans to hurt themselves or someone else, through domestic or sexual abuse, she added.
She said MFLCs have flexible office hours and can meet patrons at an office or off-base.
MLFCs offer 12 sessions per issue. Patrons do not have to complete the sessions and can stop when they feel their issue is resolved.
“They decide how they want things to go,” she said.
Many service members have issues in their lives they don’t address for various reasons, she said.
“Some are afraid of backlash to their careers,” she said. “For example, if they go to mental health, they’re concerned people might think they’re crazy. If they’re diagnosed with anxiety, they’re afraid it might impact their career.”
MLFCs address the anxiety or stress people feel about getting help for their issues and help break down attached stigmas. They help them build coping skills for their issues, or refer them to someone who can help.
“Most people have coping skills, just not always healthy ones,” Chambers said. “We help them replace unhealthy coping skills with healthy ones.”
MFLCs are available to deployed service members at overseas bases and installations. Patrons can also call an MFLC from wherever they are deployed, if one is not readily available.
MFLCs are also at most base child development centers and at schools near a base, for child counseling.
“My hope is each unit will eventually have an MFLC assigned to them, for more availability to service members,” she said.
Eglin’s MFLCs are Renata Chambers, Bldg. 210, (571) 835-6361; Zuzanna Plesa, Bldg. 2579, (850) 461-2525 and Andrea Mallory, 33rd Fighter Wing, 882-9060.