For military families, resilience means admitting when you can’t do it alone, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Rosemary Williams said.
"We need to send the message that the military families show their resourcefulness and their strength when they seek help – not the opposite," Williams noted at the third of five AUSA Military Family Forums held at the 2015 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington.
According to Williams, the second a military family member says, "I want help," they have "empowered every single military family member within earshot."
Williams said that the top issues people seek help from her office’s "confidential help programs" are "marital and relationship issues," "parent and child relationship," personal and/or professional communication, "grief and loss," and financial issues, respectively.
The 2015 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year Corie B. Weathers, LPC, said when it comes to asking for help – especially in the context of fostering resilient relationships – top brass can lead by example.
"We need more leaders to step forward and talk about what it’s like to make their families stronger and invest in their marriages," she said.
She praised Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commander of the United States Special Operations Command, for being a role model for this brand of compassionate transparency.
"General Votel this past week just came out and said not only did his family seek counseling, he told his soldiers that it’s normal and expected that they go," Williams said.
She said military families need leaders to encourage families to do whatever it takes "to care of their families, even if it uses command funds."
But the need for military family members to embrace self-care doesn’t end with adults.
"Most children feel they are weak if they ask for support," said Trevor Romain, founder of the Trevor Romain Company, that creates tools for children and educators to help youth navigate social and emotional situations and issues.
On a panel following Williams’ keynote address, Romain said this especially rings true in military culture, in which the premium placed on stoicism can inspire children to hold things in.
According to Romain, creating a "peer-to-peer culture" in which children are empowered to reach out to adults for help is necessary to combat this issue.