HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. –
Serving in the military is more than just a profession – it’s a way of life. Military service can affect personal relationships, health, fitness and more.
One of the greatest sources of strength to meet the unique challenges of military life comes from connection with others across a Spectrum of Resilience, according to the Department of Air Force Resilience website.
“Mental health is health – period,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III in an October 2022 statement. “It's on all of us to end the stigma of asking for help and support when we or someone we know is feeling distressed, anxious, or isolated.”
He added, “Reaching out is a marker of strength and resilience.”
Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Guardians, and their families have free counseling available 24/7 through Military OneSource. These counselors provide short-term, confidential, non-medical support services for a wide range of issues from marital conflicts, anger management, stress management along with coping with separation, loss and deployments.
In addition, Military One Source offers OurRelationship, a flexible, online, evidence-based counseling tool for military couples to strengthen their relationships. It is tailored to the military community and is free to all active-duty, Guard and Reserve couples.
“When a couple is in a dysfunctional or broken place, it’s important to be able to have a source to help heal those things,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Kimberly Hall, Hanscom installation chaplain. “It makes couples grow holistically and not only creates a better lifeline to improving their marriage and relationship, but is especially important for couples in the military or with families because of the trickle-down effect broken relationships cause.”
According to the OurRelationship website, the program was designed after talking with military couples about the specific challenges they face such as deployments, frequent moves, and service-related physical or mental health challenges.
Many OurRelationship coaches have a military background and understand the unique challenges military couples face.
“Couples doing the OurRelationship program report a 45 percent increase in their relationship satisfaction from the beginning to the end of the program,” according to the OurRelationship website.
It offers flexibility where couples can complete the program separate from each other or outside of normal business hours.
Since couples can complete the online activities together or separately, it is ideal for those separated because of deployment or other reasons.
Participants can also decide if they would like to work one-on-one with a OurRelationship coach or through a self-guided version of the program.
Couples working with a coach have the program tailored to their needs and have their work reinforced with weekly phone or video calls at a convenient time.
When choosing the self-guided option, couples work through structured conversations and tasks and receive feedback based on their responses.
Both the self-guided and coaching options take four to six weeks to complete. The program requires a substantial amount of reading and access to the internet.
“It’s a wonderful thing that Military OneSource is offering because ultimately we want all military members in a healthy place, but we can’t be healthy if we’re operating in dysfunction and brokenness,” Hall said.
The program isn’t for everyone or every situation, which is why Military OneSource has several additional options available to support military members and their families in their Spectrum of Resilience.
Information on current resources can be found on the Re The We website or by contacting Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to determine the best type of relationship support.
The Hanscom Chapel team is also available for confidential counseling and hosts local Strong Bonds events for military families. These events take place over a weekend and are designed to build individual resiliency by strengthening relationships for military members.
For additional local resources, Hanscom military personnel can contact the Military Family Life Counseling office at 781-315-7992 or email HanscomAdultMFLC@SRIMFLCTeam.com. Similarly, Hanscom civilian personnel can contact the Employee Assistance Program to schedule an appointment at 866-580-9078 or by visiting www.afpc.af.mil/EAP and registering with the code USAirForce.