It’s simple – military families face unique challenges. What is more complicated is how to get help when you need it. It’s one of the reasons Ellsworth Air Force Base offers the Family Advocacy program to active-duty military members and their families. We chatted with Amy Schrupp, Family Advocacy Intervention Specialist at Ellsworth, to find out exactly what they do and how to connect if your family needs support.
1) Can you talk a little bit about the special circumstances for a military family?
Deployments can increase tensions and concerns due to long periods of separation and role changes within the home while the service member is gone and again upon return. There may also be multiple moves along the way, which means changing schools and jobs, leaving behind the network you have built at a previous location and working to build your support system at your new location. Resilience among military families is very high and many embrace these challenges with incredible grace.
2) What exactly does the Family Advocacy Program do?
We offer resources to any military member on active-duty orders, regardless of branch, serving in the local area. There are two areas of Family Advocacy: prevention and maltreatment.
Within prevention, we have our New Parent Support Program that is run by a registered nurse. This program offers education classes targeted at families with children 0-3, pregnancy orientation, lactation consulting, play groups, and ways to connect parents on base.
My work is on the prevention side. I offer marital therapy, family therapy, individual therapy, and skill-based groups. If there is an incident of maltreatment within the family, our program offers treatment-based services to aid in preventing further maltreatment.
3) How can military families be proactive in keeping their family together and healthy?
Stay actively engaged with each other. Encourage making connections within your community, both on base and off base. Allow for new interests or hobbies that can be done together, but also give time for individual interests.
- Where can parents find help before or after a move to a new assignment?
We have many resources to help families during their transition. In the Douglas School system, there are Military Family Life Consultants within the schools to help military kids. Also, the Military School Liaison is an excellent resource for families. The Military & Family Readiness Center is also a great resource for other areas during transition, such as budgeting assistance and job searching skills.
- How can married couples find support and help?
We offer couples counseling in Family Advocacy, but families may also seek support from our Chaplain Corps, Military Family Life Consultants, and Military One Source. Those interested can give us a call and we can help navigate to find which resource will suit them best.