I am my own resilient Army of one, being all I can be, at least when there’s still fresh coffee in my kitchen each morning.
What happens on the days that I’m not feeling so resilient? To whom do I turn?
Sometimes I reach out to a friend, whether going out to lunch to chat about life’s challenges, or connecting with my buddy in Germany via Skype. I’ve built a good network of support, mostly composed of military spouses such as myself.
Other times I’m fortunate to have great military family programs at hand, helping guide me when I’m feeling lost. There are a few programs that stand out to me personally, ones I’ve used throughout the last couple decades.
Army Family Team Building (AFTB). This program, whether in the classroom or online, has given me basic insight into the Army lifestyle. The more advanced classes teach leadership and planning skills. I’ve not only learned from the books and slideshow presentations in classes, but also from other students sharing their experiences. After taking classes when they were first offered in Korea, I became an AFTB instructor and volunteered to teach classes, too.
Military Family Life Consultant (MFLC) Program. Counselors from this program will spend time with someone who might need help with everyday issues, and will help them find help when deeper assistance is needed. The benefits of this program are that it’s free, confidential and no records are kept.
Military One Source. Whether trying to find medical assistance for my special needs child in a remote location, or looking for annual tax preparation assistance, this program is available to help. Representatives can be reached by phone at any time.
The list of support programs available to family members could fill up several pages of this newspaper, if not an entire section.
The Army and other support organizations have given us the tools to become self-reliant individuals, helping us to navigate the often chaotic military lifestyle. We don’t live in a perfectly smooth-flowing, utopic world full of sunshine and butterflies. We need all the assistance we can get, helping our families face the stress and challenges whether our soldiers are home or deployed.
I imagining someone reading this and thinking, “Well, how am I supposed to know what’s out there to help me? Nobody from my unit ever sends me information.”
In the past I’ve been the person who sends out information to family members. I’ve created Facebook pages to reach out to unit spouses, and sent out emails with points of contact, phone numbers, and links to web pages full of information.
I am thankful for the wide range of support services available to us, but cognizant that our budgetary dollars can only stretch so far. In this day and age of budget cuts, we risk losing programs if we don’t utilize them. Someone asked me a couple years ago what we would do without some of our support programs. My response, “We had strong unit families in decades ago, we’ll still provide resources and support to our families the best we can in the future, too.”
We have to learn how to ask for help from our friends, family readiness groups, counselors and chaplains. We have to find the programs available to us and use them. Then we have to share what we’ve learned with others, so they can find help when needed, too. We must learn to be self-reliant, resilient and resourceful.
Sometimes I grumble and mumble about moving to yet another post, and setting up with another school system. Yet, I can’t imagine a civilian corporation providing nearly as many resources as we have available to us in our military lives. While life on the homefront presents some very special challenges, I am thankful for the support we’ve received through the years from different people and programs.