VISTAS Counseling Veterans and Military Families

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

Advocating for Military Families: A Counselor Education Model for Promoting a Culture of Advocacy and Action

JoLynne Reynolds and Linda C. Osterlund


Today’s military is a force of all volunteer patriots, who as a group reflect a wide range of social, cultural, religious, and ethnic diversity. The military itself has long been a unique systemic culture, characterized by a mindset and worldview not easily understood by civilians (Hall, 2008). Woven deeply in military culture is a valuing of strength and psychological resilence. Promotion of these values by the military are viewed as a necessity for the survival of our forces, but have also unintentionally created a pervasive stigma associated with signs of physical or psychological vulnerability or the need for mental health services among military service members. The Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health stated that in the present conflict, the two most prevalent injuries for active service members are post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Both of these disorders often coincide, creating a set of chronic symptoms that require an integration of interdisciplinary treatment methods. The Department of Defense (DOD) notes that the current military health care system is insufficient to meet the mental health needs of its active military service members. In a recent report, the DOD made a series of recommendations that stressed the importance of providing adequate resources to ensure a full continuum of mental health services in order to meet the needs of service members and their families in the future (Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health, 2007; Jumper, 2005).

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