CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
In the military, operations are run by the giving, receiving and implementation of orders. If those orders are not understood, productivity can break down and impede the mission. A failure to express thoughts and ideas clearly can also have a serious impact on both personal and professional relationships.
Communication is one of many skills that Marines, Sailors and their families can receive guidance on through the Military and Family Life Counselor Program.
“We help with relationship issues, anger management, separation, divorce, parenting skills, coping skills, home sickness, deployment stress and several other life skills or struggles,” said Lisa Eley, the I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group Military and Family Life Counselor.
The MFLC program provides service members and their family access to free, short-term, non-medical counseling services from a master’s or doctorate-level licensed counselor.
One thing that sets this program apart from other counseling services is confidentiality. An MFLC cannot tell anyone, including a service member’s command, that they spoke with the Marine or Sailor, except for abuse or duty-to-warn situations, said Eley.
“When I say confidential, what I mean is that we don’t have documentation,” said Eley. “Other counseling programs often have a link to the command, so while they may not share everything, they document a service member attended.”
Eley added that each unit’s MFLC changes every six months to help maintain confidentiality.
The program also offers individuals, couples, families and groups the opportunity to meet with counselors on or off military installations.
“If someone wants to meet at the beach they can do that,” said Kyp Hughes, the I MHG Family Readiness Officer. “They’re more mobile and more versatile than other counseling programs available to service members.”
Hughes encourages service members to seek help even if they think they should be able to resolve the issue alone.
“What one person can handle without much trouble might completely overwhelm someone else,” said Hughes. “We all have life events we struggle with, but historically, military members are impacted more by those events.”
While the program does provide a variety of counseling services, focus is specifically non-medical. If a service member doesn’t know what kind of help they need or where to find it, the MFLC can point them in the right direction.
“If the person who comes to see me has additional needs, I have working relationships with other programs on base,” said Eley. “I can be a resource to get them connected to whoever they need to work with.”
Eley has been with I MHG since early September and hopes to reduce the stigma within the unit about seeking help and improve the health and readiness of the unit.
“I have passion for the military and my education and background are in counseling so it comes pretty naturally,” said Eley. “I think it’s a needed service that I wish service members weren’t as hesitant to take advantage of.”
Eley is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and can be reached at (760) 573-0342.
“All they have to do is contact me by telephone and leave a message with their name and a number where I can reach them to set up a time and place for us to meet,” said Eley. “I currently have an office in the computer lab of barracks 2160, but we can meet anywhere.”
All Marines, Sailors and their families are vital to the command and supporting them remains a priority both on and off the battlefield.