Military and First Responder Services
Service to our community and country is a critical job performed by elite people. There is only a small percentage of individuals that will run into danger when everyone is running out. This is more than a job; it becomes a way of living. There are many benefits to these careers between the relationships formed, unique opportunities, and receiving specialized training.
Let’s face it, although service to our country provides fulfillment and opportunities, it comes at a cost. Some examples of personal costs you may experience are time away from home, missing important family events and milestones, a potential for higher career stress compared to other professions, work related health issues, or even trauma (including secondary and vicarious trauma). These experiences can affect your mental wellness over time. You may be more prone to feeling ‘burnt-out’, or even find yourself taking your unwanted emotions out on others. It is also common to cope with these emotions through unhealthy choices in attempt to numb or distract from the emotion.
Service members are not the only ones that can suffer. Families often pay a cost as well for our service. It can be stressful for spouses and children knowing that their loved one could be in danger. There are also major transitions that happen before and after deployments. Spouses have to adapt to living on their own for extended periods of time. It seems inevitable that when the service member leaves something will need fixing around the house. Although there are service members all over our community, professionals may not be able to fully understand the changes that family’s face when having a parent that serves. Service members often report that they feel left out of the new family routine when they return home after being gone.
Counseling can help service members by providing a protected space to share their story. Some of our counselors have service experience and can relate to both the positive and negative features of being part of a service organization. Another benefit of seeing a counselor with military experience is that you do not have to spend time explaining the lifestyle or organization of being a service member. We also enjoy helping families plan for deployment, cope with changes while the service member is gone, and help families reconnect together when the deployment is done.
Let’s Address a Big Concern That Prevents Service Members From Seeking Counseling
One word: Confidentiality. We want disclaim that the information we provide here is based on personal experiences and training, but may not be the viewpoint of other professionals. Military and other service organizations are definitely realizing that wellness, specifically mental wellness, is important to address as an organization. Suicide and violence are two major areas that service organizations are concerned about. Although there is a lot of great information being shared with society to educate about mental health, much more training and awareness is needed. With that being said, service members are naturally fearful that their personal information could be misinterpreted, and fearful that it would have serious consequences to their career. We work to educate our clients on their rights to confidentiality. Since we operate a cash-based practice, we do not bill third party payers. This means that we do not have to report that you are seeking counseling to anyone (unless mandatory reporting is necessary, outlined below and more in detail during your sessions). This gives our service members an extra layer of protection. Should your organization need information about your mental health (such as in cases where they recommend that you seek assistance, or you self report your involvement with counseling), we will act as an advocator on your behalf to only share the minimal information needed. We would be required to break confidentiality if you report, or present with, a risk of immediate harm to self or others. Our requirements of being a mandatory reporter will be explained in detail during our sessions together.
Service organizations are a family, and there is much to be said about the support that family can provide a member when they are struggling. Uplift Counseling Center will continue to provide training and avocation about best practice for supporting wellness. But all in all, your confidentiality is important because we want people to feel comfortable seeking support instead of trying to cope with life’s trials on their own. We look forward to hearing your story and working together so that you can continue to help others!