By Lindsey Jefferies
If I asked you to name an organization that that directly impacts an employee’s family just as much as the actual employee, I bet I could guess what you would say. Law enforcement and the military are occupations that come to mind with regards to heavy impacts on the family. As a 12-year service member myself, I can attest to the heavy weight carried by both my family members and the families of my Soldiers. You could probably imagine that the separation caused by annual trainings, weekend obligations, and deployments place great strain on the family simply due to the separation. However, there are unique challenges that military family members endure in addition to separation and loss.
Over the years, I have come to witness the challenges the spouses and children of service members face when it comes to building and leaving a support system. The friendships, organizations, and occupations that are established by these family members are initially based on the location of the current duty station. These families are faced with the challenge of overcoming the dismantling of those bonds when they are uprooted and reassigned to a new location. This is a challenge recognized by the Army. In my experience, the establishment of the Family Readiness Program, the Army’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) program, and the Army One Source were intentional efforts to increase availability of support systems, family involvement and wellbeing, and the overall resilience of the military family. The Education and Employment program of the NC National Guard (NCNG) was developed to assist military family members and Soldiers with gaining fulltime employment and education assistance or guidance.
As you are considering the different challenges military families might face, the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST) may be a few of the considerations that come to mind. When it comes to mental health, I know firsthand the services that are available to the NCNG specifically because I desire to work directly with military families in NC after I am a Licensed Professional Counselor. The Integrated Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) for the NCNG is an all-inclusive system that provides free direct counseling and assistance for National Guardsmen and their families. The assistance can range from individual and family counseling, suicide hotline, crisis intervention, Traumatic Event management, and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing.
As a National Guard Soldier, my duty is to serve my state and country. There is an added sense of comfort given to me because as I serve, I know that my family and the families of my fellow Soldiers are taken care of as they face the unique challenges of military families.
Lindsey Jefferies is a 29-year-old Raleigh native currently serving as a 1st Lieutenant in the NC Army National Guard. She holds the position of Platoon Leader and is a Blackhawk Pilot as her Military Occupational Specialty. Lindsey is completing her 2nd year of her Master’s Degree in Couple and Family Counseling at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Upon completion of her degree, she aspires to work directly with military families.