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The Chaplain Family Life Center serves families

The Chaplain Family Life Center works to preserve families and enhance readiness. Photo credit: U.S. Army graphic

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The Chaplain Family Life Center (CFLC) is dedicated to ensuring family readiness.

"The mission of the CFLC is to provide highly specialized education, consultation, and resources for unit chaplains to conduct pastoral counseling," explained Chaplain (Lt.Col.) Collin Grossruck, the center's director.

Near the Madigan Army Medical Center, the center has been co-located at The Four Chaplains Memorial Center since 1993. Grossruck is only assisted on a part-time basis by a religious affairs specialist and two masters degree-level interns.

The CFLC is available daily to active-duty chaplains and scheduled clients only. Active-duty service members with marital, pre-marital, parenting and extended family challenges are priorities. There is no walk-in support on site.

Grossruck emphasized that unit level chaplains are effective in counseling soldiers and their family members but need CFLC's support for a setting suitable for marriage care and for consultation regarding the complex and long-term issue some military families face.

"The center operates on an appointment basis only for those who have met with or have been referred by their active-duty unit chaplain," explained Grossruck.

"There is no walk-in or crisis intervention capacity."

For those referred by their unit chaplain, the CFLC provides trained chaplains who serve as family systems therapists and trainers with an emphasis on three key areas.

Family life ministry addresses education, consultation and pastoral counseling.

Family life education is preventive in nature and works to develop healthy relationships on every level to help families thrive under the pressures of military life. This may include education for single soldiers, couples, families or extended families, and training in a range of subjects such as finances, parenting and deployment stress.

Consultation and pastoral counseling is a formal, religiously integrated process that enables service members to change, cope, and resolve their presenting issues in a religious framework.

"Family Life Centers will support commanders by providing additional training to chaplains in pastoral counseling and relationship education skills and programs," added Grossruck.

He cited an example of how an active-duty family was helped as it struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The Family Life Chaplain co-counseled the couple with their unit chaplain while an intern worked with one spouse on individual issues ... and another chaplain worked with the other spouse on spiritual issues," he said.

"After fourteen sessions over the course of six months, the marriage was restored."

Some of the challenges he and his staff face center on dropped appointments and training schedules.

"Just like specialty clinic medical appointments, pastoral counseling appointments are hard to come by and are not easily rescheduled," continued Grossruck.

"Other challenges surround the difficulty of providing continuity of care through seasons of field training, deployments, temporary duty and leave ... and administrative and intake support due to staffing constraints."

Soldiers are advised to contact their battalion or higher-level ministry in order to seek compassionate and competent care or referral.

Appointments are limited to families referred by their unit chaplain. Only after meeting with this chaplain may an active ID cardholder call the waitlist at (253) 967-1723.

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