Keeping the Pack Strong: Your Military Family Life Counselor

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Editor’s Note: This is the third article in a series designed to highlight helping agencies and resiliency at Kunsan Air Base.

Military members face a myriad of unique challenges every day. Airmen may struggle with stress related to work, finances or marriage. At Kunsan Air Base, situations can become even more stressful, as service members work in high-demand roles while stationed thousands of miles from home.

The Military Family Life Counseling Program helps support military members and their families during various life challenges through short-term, non-medical counseling services, at no cost.

“As a Military Family Life Counselor, I have the ability to help active duty service members adjust to military life and help them better understand the stressors they may face, as well as be ready for duty,” said Jim Hess, MFLC assigned to Kunsan. “I conduct one-on-one sessions, provide educational briefings to units and work with existing military and family support programs.”

Through psycho-education, MFLCs are able to educate military members on life skills, such as anger management and communication. They also assist in helping military service members and their families understand various factors of living a military lifestyle including deployment stress, homesickness, relocation adjustment and separation.

“During my sessions, I focus on education to change the thinking and behavior of the individuals who are experiencing certain stressors in their lives,” said Hess. “I use psychology to teach them how their thinking affects behavior and how it’s possible to think better, feel better and function better. Service members can then use the tools I provide for the rest of their lives.”

MFLCs are masters or doctorate-level licensed counselors with the ability to speak with service members on or off-installation. All services with an MFLC are private and confidential, with the exception of child abuse, domestic abuse and any duty to warn situations.

Hess has been a licensed marriage and family therapist for more than 20 years and maintains a license in Tennessee. He arrived at Kunsan in August 2019, with his licensed service and therapy dog, Bear. Kunsan is Hess’s fourth assignment as a MFLC, working with military service members and their families for two years.

“When my son joined the Army three years ago, I wanted to give back to the families,” said Hess. “I am here to help Airmen and ensure they are ready for service and able to accomplish their mission.”

Recently, Air Force senior leaders implemented a Resilience Tactical Pause with the purpose to increase Airmen connectedness and increase unit cohesion, trust and confidence in command teams while soliciting feedback to evolve the Air Force’s approach to decrease suicides and increase the well-being of Airmen. The MFLC Program augments existing military support services by providing Airmen with another avenue for seeking help.

“The MFLC Program enhances the Airman & Family Readiness Center in the personal and work life arenas,” said Master Sgt. Miles Martin, Airman & Family Readiness Center Readiness NCO. “The MFLC provides coping methods for professional and personal life pressures such as separation, homesickness, conflict resolution and relationship issues. Their ability to provide confidential counseling provides another outlet for the Airman of Kunsan.”

If an individual is interested in the MFLC program, choosing to seek non-medical counseling through the MFLC program has no impact on a service member’s security clearance and information disclosed during a session with an MFLC is confidential. In addition to Jim Hess, Kunsan is scheduled to receive an additional MFLC in November 2019.

For more information about the Military Family Life Counseling Program, visit Military One Source.