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NEWS | June 4, 2014

Family Advocacy provides healing hands to JB Charleston

By Senior Airman George Goslin 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Sometimes military families are in need of help and do not actively seek it out when it matters most.

The stress of multiple deployments, day to day parenting and dealing with finances can cause excess stress on families and affect the relationships of everyone involved. For those who don't know how to work through these issues, there can be unfortunate consequences.

But, there is a plan in place to aid these families through these situations: the Family Advocacy Programs.

Family Advocacy Programs are designed to address issues that impact our military families and may lead to reduced readiness or distract service members from their mission duties. These issues can run the gamut, from being a new parent, to financial worries to communication problems in a marriage, or even abuse.

There are three Family Advocacy Programs service members can take advantage of to help them cope with difficult situations: the Outreach Program, the New Parent Support Program and the Family Maltreatment Program.

The Outreach Program supports military families and the community by offering classes to improve coping, parenting and relationship skills as well as classes geared to combat stress and anger management.

"Sometimes couples haven't had the best example in terms of relationships or communication," said Brenda Edmond, Family Advocacy Outreach Program manager. "They get married and sometimes don't know how to communicate or how to problem solve, so we have programs in place to help them with that."

The Family Maltreatment Program identifies and evaluates active-duty military and their family members for abuse or violence, providing treatment services for those families to help correct the problems.

Typically, for a spousal abuse situation, providers of the Family Maltreatment Program would refer domestic violence situations to Family Advocacy. Once Family Advocacy receives the referral, they will conduct an assessment on the couple.

"Ideally we would want to assess the active-duty member as well as the dependent spouse," said Edmond. "Once we have assessed the situation, we will immediately put that couple on a path to making them healthier."

Family Advocacy will begin to provide intervention to that family, ranging from couples counseling, stress management, anger management or a domestic violence program off base.

The New Parent Support Program provides education for expecting or new parents with children up to 3-years old. The program teaches parenting attitudes and helps identify at-risk parents since it also serves as a child abuse prevention program.

"We tend to parent how we were parented, so if mom and dad spanked you with a belt, which happened with a lot of people, you may go to that as a proper disciplinary technique," said Edmond. "That's considered abuse these days, so we have programs that can teach alternatives to corporal punishment."

Family Advocacy counselors speak at commander's calls and Wingmen Days to educate service members about domestic violence with the hope that people will get the help they need, and there won't be another domestic violence incident.

"Domestic violence does occur in military homes and families. Whether it occurs in spousal relationships or with children, we need to have a program in place to provide prevention and intervention," said Edmond. "Families with higher stress levels such as financial stress, deployment stress, marital stress and work stress tend to be at higher risk for domestic violence, so having a program that offers stress management makes a difference."

For more information, you can call Family Advocacy at 843-963-6972 for the Air Base and 843-764-7435 for the Naval Weapons Station.