Let Family Advocacy be your Wingman

  • Published
  • By Richard V. Bivens
  • 96th Medical Group
Contacting the Family Advocacy Program before family or relationship(s) fall apart is important. Help us to help you. Although domestic violence is not to be tolerated in the Armed Forces, there are daily incidents occurring within our community.

FAP is used as a conduit to assist families in crisis and provide necessary relationship assistance before maltreatment occurs. Voluntary services through the FAP are not documented in your outpatient medical records. It only becomes necessary to document FAP in outpatient medical records if domestic violence has taken place, and it becomes medically necessary.

Prevention support services available through the FAP are New Parent Support Program, Family Advocacy Strength-Based Therapy and psycho-educational groups; these prevention services address a variety of family and relationship challenges. NPSP is for families with children up to three years of age; it is voluntary and provides parents with home visitations, parenting education and other prevention services for new parents who are disconnected from traditional family and community support.

In addition, FAP offers FAST services which include, but are not limited to, family counseling, marriage counseling, individual counseling and conflict resolution. Provided there are no clinical observations that would prohibit otherwise, there is no documentation in outpatient medical records for these voluntary services.

Often, when couples or families are stressed or overwhelmed by circumstances (e.g., transition, displacement, finance, away from family and friends, long work hours, military life, alcohol misuse, etc.), tension can arise between even the most loving couples and families. Our goal in the FAP is to be the first line of support before a situation turns violent. Like a Wingman, the FAP is here for couples and families undergoing unusual or excess stress in their relationship.

Contacting the FAP first could, in essence, reduce the likelihood for Domestic Violence Incidents and reduce the potential for any adverse career impacts. Voluntary participation in the FAP prevention services (NPSP, FAST or groups) can occur as long as there has been no violence (or other UCMJ violations). Many fear that FAP involvement has negative connotations, stigmas, and negative career impacts, which is simply not true. It is usually the level of DVI and the associated UCMJ violations that have the greatest career impacts, not FAP medical treatment services.

Voluntary FAP prevention services have no negative attributes whatsoever. The next time relationship or family tensions rise above normal levels, stop and say, "Time out, let's call the FAP!"

Imagine, if you will, the FAP is called before DVI occurs and partners get involved in our prevention services. Potentially that would mean no command involvement is necessary, no Security Forces' involvement is undertaken, no notification matrix is invoked, no Central Registry Board is required, and no medical record documentation just the FAP involvement and a commitment by the partners to identify and work through the stressors in their relationships.

We have the greatest Air Force the world has ever known. To this end, the FAP remains committed to Air Force families and prevention of partner and family violence.