Everyone in a military family has to cope with deployments, relocation and the other demands of military life. But those demands may be most difficult for children, who may have to start over repeatedly in new schools, have little or no control over where they go and generally lack the coping skills of adults. Child and youth behavioral military and family life counselors understand the issues military children face and can provide support to meet their individual needs. They are licensed counselors with a master's or doctorate degree who have passed a criminal background check. Child and youth behavioral military and family life counselors play a key role in giving military children the support they may need during some of the more challenging periods of military life.
Support and services
Child and youth behavioral military and family life counseling services benefit military children in several ways, including positively affecting behavior, performance in school, and relationships with family members and teachers. The overall goal is to give the military child, as well as the rest of the family, no-cost support through difficult situations. The counselors can address:
- Feelings and issues related to self-esteem
- Communication and relationships at home and at school
- Life skills such as problem solving, conflict resolution, and adjusting to change
- Behavioral issues including bullying and anger management
- Changes on the home front such as deployment and reunion, divorce, and grief and loss
Counseling services are confidential, with the exception of domestic violence, abuse, and suicidal or homicidal threats.
Any children of active duty, National Guard or reserve service members (regardless of their activation status) are eligible for support. Department of Defense civilian personnel designated as civil expeditionary workforce and their family members are also eligible for support. Non-medical counseling and other associated child and youth behavioral military and family life counseling services are available to adolescents 18 years of age and younger as long as a parent or legal guardian gives consent.
Programs and services offered by child and youth behavioral military and family life counseling services vary from one installation to another, so it's best to check with your installation directly to discover counseling options and associated activities. You may find support for your child through one of the following programs:
Child Development Centers — Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and select "Child Development Centers" in the program or service drop-down box. Enter your installation name and click "Go" to be directed to contact information for your local CDC. Inquire locally for more information about how these counselors are involved.
Installation-based youth and teen centers — By selecting "Youth Programs/Centers" in the drop-down box on the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS Web page, you will be directed to contact information for services on your installation.
Department of Defense Education Activity Schools — At DoDEA you can browse materials written specifically for parents and find child and youth behavioral military and family life counselor's presence on the website through links such as Deployment Support, the Bullying Awareness and Prevention Program, and the Safe Schools newsletter.
Operation Purple camps — The goal of Operation Purple camps is to give military children a safe place to learn to cope with the emotions and reality of deployment. Operation Purple campers get to take a break from the stressors leading up to, during or following deployment by spending a fun-filled week with other military kids in the same situation. A variety of camps may be available near you, including camps specifically for military teens or retreats for the entire family. For availability and more information, visit the National Military Family Association website.
Operation: Military Kids — Operation: Military Kids works with several organizations that may be found near you, including Boys and Girls Clubs, 4-H Clubs, the American Legion, the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies, and the Military Child Education Coalition. For more information about OMK's partnership with these organizations and to locate a branch near your installation, visit the OMK website.
Through each of these resources, child and youth behavioral military and family life counselors support children, families, teachers, staff and related programs through non-medical counseling, observation and training in the areas of behavior management and engaging educational techniques.