I pulled into the parking garage of a nondescript Northern Virginia office building, feeling a bit frazzled and hoping I’d found the right place. I’d braved D.C. traffic on a blustery October morning to attend a tour of the call center operated by Military OneSource. To be honest, I only reluctantly agreed to attend the tour. As a (ahem) well-seasoned military spouse, I like to think I am familiar with resources available to support military families. I’ve checked out the Military OneSource website many times and recommended it to other military families. What could I possibly learn on a call center tour that I didn’t already know?
As it turns out, a lot.
Military OneSource was launched in 2009 as a one-stop shop for military families looking for information and support. The heart of the program is its three call centers, which operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Service members (active duty, National Guard and Reserve) and their families can call any time and speak to a specially trained “triage consultant,” who is there to answer any question or help solve any problem military life can throw at you. Feeling stressed because tax time is looming and you have pay stubs from three different states? Military OneSource can connect you with a tax preparer to walk you through the paperwork. Trying to make healthy choices and get back in shape? Military OneSource has health and wellness coaches who can work with you—online or over the phone—on fitness, nutrition, and stress management.
For service members and families struggling to cope with the pressures of military life, Military OneSource can offer referrals for up to 12 sessions (per person, per issue) of non-medical counseling – in person, online, or over the phone.
Although all calls are confidential, I was able to listen to a previously recorded call with the identifying information removed. A young military spouse had called OneSource because she was experiencing stress and anxiety following a traffic accident. Within minutes, the counselor had found a local behavioral health provider who could meet with the caller that very day. The counselor also made sure to ask about other issues the spouse might be dealing with. Did she have access to a car? Had she been in touch with her service member? The call ended with a promise from the counselor to follow up within 90 days – and with a military spouse knowing that someone cared about her situation and was there to help.
As I wandered through the call center, more surprises awaited me. Did you know that Military OneSource offers document translation services? I didn’t, but they do. If a military family needs a legal document like a lease, birth certificate or marriage license translated into English, Military OneSource can take care of it.
I learned that Military OneSource offers specialty consultations to help families who are considering adoption, caring for an elderly family member, or need information about services for children with special needs. Military spouses looking for advice on going back to school or pursuing new careers can call Military OneSource to talk to a career counselor. Military OneSource also hosts regular webinars on topics covering virtually every aspect of military life, from TRICARE to money management to the ins and outs of the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). Like all of Military OneSource’s services, these webinars and consultations are available to families free of charge.
I left the tour feeling a little less smug than when I came in – but a lot more reassured about the support that’s available to military families. Military life can be challenging. None of us can or should be expected to get through it alone. Military OneSource and its dedicated team of counselors can help navigate some of the bumps we all run into along the way. Check out their website or give them a call at 1-800-342-9647 and find out what Military OneSource can do for you.
Did you know about the assistance available through Military OneSource? Have you called them or visited their website? Share your experiences below!