This is a chapter from the Family Caregiver Curriculum, Module 4: Navigating Services and Benefits.
Everyone needs a helping hand at one time or another. Coping with TBI can be challenging. Fortunately, there are resources to help you and your service member/veteran cope.
What Counseling Is Available for Active Duty, Activated National Guard, Reserve Components, and Families?
The military offers non-medical counseling to the active force, National Guard and Reserve Components, and their families. Counseling is available for both children and adults. Couples or family counseling may also be available.
Active duty, National Guard and Reserve service members, and their families may receive counseling from:
- Military OneSource at http://www.militaryonesource.com
- Military and Family Life Consultants (MFLCs)
- post/base and National Guard/Reserve Family Support Centers. Some personnel may also be eligible for services at local Vet Centers.
Military OneSource offers three different ways to receive counseling services:
- face-to-face with a counselor in your local area
- by telephone with a Military OneSource consultant
- online consultations in a secure, real-time “chat” format
All Military OneSource counseling services are free to service members and their eligible family members.
Military OneSource professionals will help you develop personal solutions, goals, and plans. They will encourage you to build on your strengths, teach you to maximize your support systems, and help you find community resources to meet your needs.
The Military OneSource counseling services are not designed to deal with long-term issues, such as child or spouse abuse, and mental illness.
Those in need of long-term treatment are referred to a military treatment facility (MTF), TRICARE, or another health care provider in the community.
TRICARE coverage includes mental health and behavioral counseling benefits, including:
- inpatient and outpatient care
- addictions counseling
For more information, see http://tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/MentalHealthAndBehavior/TypesOfTreatments/Psychotherapy.
Family Service Centers
Counseling may also be available from a Family Service Center. Every military installation has a Family Service Center. Services vary across installations.
If you do not live near an installation, many of the services can be provided via telephone and e-mail.
For Active Duty Service Members
Active military bases have family support centers:
- Navy Fleet and Family Support Center
- Marine Corps Community Service Center
- Air Force Family Service Center
- Army Community Service Center
Although the names vary, most of the services are the same.
Centers are staffed by highly trained human services professionals and volunteers. All programs are free of charge.
For National Guard Members
The State Area Command (STARC) within the State National Guard Military Headquarters usually creates a Family Assistance Center (FAC) when a reserve unit is mobilized. The FAC will provide current information about family support available within the state. This includes military, federal, state, and local civilian support.
The FAC will also provide government forms and assistance in filling them out. Check with your STARC to locate the FAC nearest you.
Chaplains help service members and their families deal with personal concerns such as:
- faith issues
- redeployment or reunion issues
- moral and ethical values
- social concerns
Chaplains help to resolve problems by making appropriate referrals to command channels or social service agencies. They also assist military personnel in requesting emergency leave, compassionate reassignments, and hardship discharges.
“Chaplain Thames was sent with me to travel to Germany to meet my husband, and then to Bethesda, and then he returned to Okinawa. He traveled with me so that I wouldn’t be traveling alone.”
- Anna E.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS)?
Some people experience effects from the stress of combat that don’t go away without help. They may even get worse over time. This is called Post-Traumatic Stress, or PTS for short.
Your family member with PTS may have:
- difficulty sleeping
- emotionally numb feelings
These symptoms can make daily life difficult.
Your family member may also:
- feel depressed
- begin to abuse alcohol or drugs
- have problems with memory and understanding
- have difficulty dealing with social or family situations
- develop personality changes
If you think your family member may be suffering from PTS, there are many resources for help in dealing with it.
Talk to your doctor. Also, check out Military OneSource. This Web site has links to information on dealing with PTS and how to seek help: www.militaryonesource.com/skins/MOS/home.aspx.
Your family member may also call 1-800-342-9647 twenty-four hours a day. Military OneSource may authorize your service member to have six confidential counseling sessions at no cost.
Mental and behavioral health care is also a TRICARE benefit. TRICARE will cover care that is medically or psychologically necessary in both outpatient and inpatient settings. The first eight behavioral health outpatient visits per fiscal year do not require prior authorization from TRICARE.
You can visit the Web site: http://tricare.mil/mybenefit/ProfileFilter.do?puri=%2Fhome%2FMentalHealthAndBehavior to find a list of behavioral health providers within your immediate area.
What Resources are Available to Prevent Suicide?
In the case of an emergency, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right away at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
DoD Suicide Prevention and Risk Reduction Committee’s (SPARRC) Preventing Suicide Network
The DoD SPARRC Preventing Suicide Network is a resource center that provides information about suicide prevention.
The SPARRC Web site (http://www.preventingsuicide.com/dodtest) provides information on what to look for and what to do to help someone who you think may be dealing with thoughts of suicide.
Up-to-date information is available so that your family member can learn more about suicide. The site provides service-specific resources:
- Air Force – Air Force Suicide Prevention Program: http://afspp.afms.mil
- Army – U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine Suicide Prevention Program: http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/dhpw/Readiness/suicide.aspx
- Coast Guard – Coast Guard Suicide Awareness Program: http://www.uscg.mil/worklife/suicide_prevention.asp
- Marine Corps – Marine Corps Community Services Suicide Prevention Program: http://www.usmc-mccs.org/suicideprevent
- Navy – Navy Suicide Prevention Program: http://www.npc.navy.mil/CommandSupport/SuicidePrevention
For a more complete listing of Government Suicide Prevention Programs, see Appendix F.
What Counseling is Available for Veterans?
The Department of Veterans Affairs Vet Center program is staffed by small multi-disciplinary teams of dedicated providers, many of whom are combat veterans themselves.
Vet Centers provide individual, group, and family counseling to all veterans who served in any combat zone. This service may be provided free of charge to your veteran and/or family members.
Vet Centers offer readjustment counseling — a wide range of services provided to combat veterans in the effort to help make the transition from military to civilian life go more smoothly. Services include:
- individual and group counseling
- marital and family counseling
- bereavement counseling
- medical referrals
- assistance in applying for VA benefits (see Chapter 2 for more information)
- employment counseling
- guidance and referral
- alcohol and drug abuse assessments
- information about and referral to community resources
- counseling and referral for sexual trauma that happened while serving in the military
- outreach and community education
A service member or veteran who served in any combat zone (Vietnam, Southwest Asia, OEF, OIF, etc.) and received a military campaign ribbon, or their family members, is eligible for Vet Center services.
Call toll free during normal business hours at 1-800-905-4675 (Eastern) and 1-866-496-8838 (Pacific).
You can also locate a Vet Center near you by going to the Vet Center Web site at www.vetcenter.va.gov.
What Other Services Are Available?
There are behavioral health services being provided for free for service members/veterans and their caregivers. A list is at America Supports You (http://www.ourmilitary.mil/index.aspx). Ask your POC for a list.
Also check out the National Resource Directory at: http://www.nationalresourcedirectory.org.
See more information included in Module 4: Navigating Services and Benefits.
The Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans provides comprehensive information and resources caregivers need to care and advocate for their injured loved one and to care for themselves in the process. The Guide was developed by the Defense Health Board, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs.