MFLCs integrate into units
By Senior Airman Mackenzie Richardson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 04, 2016
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
When you break a bone, you are rushed to the nearest hospital where you’re poked, prodded and wrapped in a cast by doctors and specialists who will ensure your broken bones heal properly. When experiencing troubles or stress in an individual’s personal or work life, the Military Family Life Counselors are here to help ensure Airmen and their families heal properly and are fit to fight.
The military offers a wide array of different resources for Airmen and their families to learn valuable skills to maintain a healthy professional and personal life. This includes chaplains, mental health, supervision and numerous avenues through the Airman & Family Readiness Center including the MFLC Program.
“The Military Family Life Counselors augment the Airman & Family Readiness Center in the personal and work life arenas,” said Christopher Marble, 92nd Force Support Squadron Airman & Family Readiness Center chief. “It is one resource where Airmen and their families can seek assistance in addition to the other existing resources.”
The MFLCs provide coping methods for professional and personal life pressures Airmen and their families may be feeling such as deployments, separation, homesickness, parenting issues, conflict resolution and many more.
The program provides short-term counseling services as well as psycho-education to assist active duty, National Guard and reserve service members and their families in understanding the impact of military life stressors. These specialists come at no-cost and are strictly confidential unless to prevent harm to self or others.
“MFLCs all maintain masters and doctorate level degrees and are licensed in at least one state,” Marble said. “Although they are qualified to, MFLCs do not complete clinical work. Instead, they focus on brief solution-focused counseling.”
MFLCs are located all around Fairchild to include the A&FRC, youth center, child development center and Michael Anderson Elementary. This ensures they are available to work with families, individuals, couples and children.
Recently, the Department of Defense initiated a MFLC surge, addressing Target Resilience Outreach, a topic discussed at the Air Force Suicide Prevention Summit held earlier this year. The Surge MFLC model places a trained, certified MFLC within a unit to focus on local unit-specific issues.
The Surge MFLC was proposed to all Air Force installations, with Fairchild being one of the few to take advantage of the program. The 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron is one of the units on base that is giving the program a try.
“It has been great having the Military Family Life Counselor in the unit,” Lt. Col. Leonard Shores, 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “Having him simply walking the halls, he has been able to directly interact with the Airmen and is accessible every day.”
Easier accessibility to resources like MFLCs helps Airmen balance and maintain the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness: mental, social, physical and spiritual.
It is very important to balance all four pillars, and the mental health pillar is just as important as the remaining three, said Shores. When someone is not mentally healthy, and dealing with various issues, whether professional or personal, they are unable to focus on the task at hand and on the overall mission.
“The Surge MFLC program has been a great benefit to the squadron,” said Shores. “Traditionally, maintenance is one of the career fields the Air Force has identified as a high stressed field. Especially with the manning shortages we face and the long hours in the elements to include weekends, deployments and TDYs. I volunteered to try to provide one more resource for my Airmen and with the direct daily access, it has provided another great source of help.”
If an individual is interested in the MFLC program, choosing to seek non-medical counseling through the MFLC program has no impact on a service member’s security clearance and information disclosed during a session with an MFLC is kept confidential.
“I would encourage other units to allow the opportunity for the Surge MFLC program to support our Airmen,” concluded Shores. “We must strive to give them every opportunity to succeed and supporting programs that make a difference, can do that!”
For more information on the Military Family Life Counselor Program, call the Airman & Family Readiness Center at (509) 247-2246.