Story by Rosemary Freitas Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy
As the government shutdown continues, I am in awe of the patience and resolve shown by members of the military community. We have all been touched by the recent furlough. I know that some of our military families depend on a spouse’s paycheck to help make ends meet. Additionally, some spouses are among the many federal employees waiting at home for the government shutdown to end. There is the lingering issue of the possible paycheck delays. Despite all these challenges – as always – you are managing these new challenges with characteristic resourcefulness and resilience.
My main concern is this; as the shutdown continues, stress levels may rise above healthy stages. Now more than ever, it’s important for all of us to pay attention to the stressors that we and the people around us are experiencing. If you or someone close to you is experiencing unhealthy levels of stress due to the shutdown, or for any other reason, confidential help is available 24/7/365.
Most of us like to think that we can manage on our own, but reaching out for support is so critically important for our overall health and well-being. We are strong as individuals but stronger as a community, caring for each other and helping each other through even the most challenging of times. Reaching out for support – to a family member, a friend, a chaplain, the installation military and family support center, or Military OneSource – means you have the strength to recognize when new information, resources or skills will help you through life’s challenges. But it is up to you to seek assistance if you need it and to know where to refer someone if they are experiencing unhealthy stress.
We are here to help.
In my previous blog post, I gave an overview of the military and family support programs that have been and will continue to be fully operational during the shutdown. They include Military OneSource, the Military and Family Life Counselor Program and the Joint Family Support Assistance Program. In addition, many installation military and family support centers are now open and providing services.
To learn more about confidential non-medical counseling and financial consultation options call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or contact your installation military and family support center. To locate installation and JFSAP programs near you, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
As thousands of Department of Defense employees return to work this week, I am pleased to report that the commissaries have reopened, the American Forces Network is back on the air and our military communities are beginning to return to normal operations. I would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Fisher House Foundation for assisting families of the fallen by bridging the gap in paying death gratuities interrupted by the shutdown. The Fisher House has a remarkable record of silent giving to military families and they continue to stand strong in their commitment to the military community.
Going forward, the Military Community and Family Policy office remains committed to doing everything we can to support every member of our military community – active duty, National Guard and reserve members, their families and survivors. And as member of this community, you have a crucial part to play as well. Provide that extra strength and support to your fellow service members, families, and coworkers throughout this challenging time. Even the smallest gestures – taking the time to really sit down and talk with a good friend or having another family to your home for dinner – can make all the difference in someone’s day. History is testament; we are strongest when we stand united.