When The Holidays Aren't Happy

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Sandra Stokes
  • 944th Medical Squadron
It's the most wonderful time of the year! At least that is our hope. However, situations in our lives can occur that take some of the happiness out of the Holiday Season. We all suffer hardships at some point in this life. If you are facing some hardships this season, please remember that your military family cares. There are many resources available to help members through difficult times - no matter what time of year.

I know it sounds cliché but the first step really is acknowledging you need help and reaching out. As First Sergeants, we are ALWAYS available to you. We have access to information and resources that we can put you in contact with. And sometimes we can help you ourselves depending on the situation.

Besides your First Sergeants, your Chaplain Corps team is also a great place to start, especially if the situation is sensitive in nature. Reaching out to a Chaplain first is never a bad idea since Chaplains are the ONLY military members who have 100% confidentiality. The Chaplain can hear whatever you have to say and provide you with information and there's no worry that anyone will find out what you talk about unless you first grant permission.

Another local resource we have available to us are the Military Family Life Counselors or MFLCs. MFLCs are trained, clinical counselors who are contracted by the Department of Defense to provide private, confidential (other than duty-to-warn situations) counseling free of charge to Service Members and our families. They keep no records and do not report their contacts with you to anyone. The difference between MFLCs and Chaplains is the MFLC's requirement to report child abuse, domestic abuse and other duty-to-warn situations.

How about financial hardships? The pressure to provide for our families during the Holiday Season can be overwhelming; especially for those of us already struggling financially. The MFLC program also provides Personal Financial Counselors or PFC MFLCs. PFCs can offer financial counseling, assist with developing budgets, and a host of other financial assistance. All you need to do is reach out!

Another favorite resource of mine is Military One Source. By phone or on the web, you can reach out to them for a "broad range of concerns including money management, spouse employment and education, parenting and child care, relocation, deployment, reunion, and the particular concerns of family members with special-needs. They can also include more complex issues like relationships, stress, and grief" as is described on their website. I was able to utilize Military One Source to help find a long-term care facility for my mother last year. I didn't know where else to turn and they helped!

Below is a list of resources and how to get in touch with them. If you are struggling this Holiday Season, please do not go through it alone! If you are fine but notice a fellow Wingman struggling, share this information. We truly are a family and need to look out for each other.

Military One Source

944th Chaplain's Office - 623-856-5303
Luke AFB Duty Chaplain (on call & emergencies after hours) 623-856-5800

Military Family Life Counselor (MFLC)
Luke MFLC Confidential Phone: 623-238-0565
For MFLCs at other bases, contact the Family Readiness Center at the base near you for their contact information.

Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)
24/7 Contact Phone: 623-856-4878

Air Force Reserve Psychological Health Advocacy Program (PHAP)
Referral 24/7 Call Center: 888-536-0626