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.

Safe Haven Saturdays: A Community-Based Program for Promoting Resilience and Attachment in Deployed Military Families

Lennis G. Echterling and Anne L. Stewart


Over half of the deployed military personnel are parents who leave children behind as they move into harm’s way. Two million children have experienced a parental deployment since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Chandra et al., 2010). Many parents report high levels of stress and psychosocial problems with their children during these times. Importantly, parents who turned to sources of community support reported less stress and fewer difficulties in their children (Flake, Davis, Johnson, & Middleton, 2009). Thus the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child,” can have special significance for these families with a loved one deployed. When asked what helped during a recent separation, one National Guard parent stated, “Provide more groups where families can get together and socialize or lean on one another. I attended a monthly group but otherwise felt very isolated because I felt no one understood” (Budash, 2009).

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