Helping News                                                  December 2009 Issue 17
Counseling Military Families 
( Information from 2009 HPSO article)

Military personnel live with extraordinary stress these days, as they return from overseas or face the prospect of deployment. A recent study by the Department of Psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research demonstrated that a significant percentage of soldiers who have experienced combat suffer from major depression, generalized anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. But less than half of those exhibiting symptoms of such disorders sought mental healthcare, fearing they would be stigmatized by superiors and peers. 

Families of military personnel experience considerable mental stress of their own. They fear for the safety of loved ones. At the same time, they often face the challenge of feeling like a single parent and experiencing the sense of loss that occurs when someone is missing from the family unit. Many find themselves living far from friends and relatives, causing feelings of isolation. What can be more distressing are soldiers who return home with untreated mental issues that cause emotional disturbances within the family. Family members with persistent anxieties may want help from a mental health professional. 

Counseling needs for military families 
vary, and may include marriage and 
family counseling, individual 
psychotherapy and addiction 
counseling. Nearly every military 
installation has a family service center, 
where family members can access
information, a referral, counseling and 
crisis intervention services. In addition,
 all military families— including those 
of National Guard and Reserve members
 who are active for more than 
30 days—are eligible for at least limited free mental healthcare benefits at either a military treatment center or a civilian facility.
Insurance coverage for counseling services at a civilian facility may be provided—in whole or in part—by TRICARE, the healthcare program offered by the Department of Defense to active duty and retired uniformed services members and their families.

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