JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO–LACKLAND, Texas —
The largest family advocacy program in the Air Force, which is located at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, provides a steady hand when life’s plans go off the rails.
“We can’t have successful missions if families are suffering and struggling,” said Capt. Isaiah Carter, 59th Mental Health Squadron family advocacy officer.
The FAP is ready to assist families in several areas, which include maltreatment, emotional education, marriage counseling, building healthy relationships and new parent support.
“Any sort of maltreatment like domestic abuse, child abuse, neglect, sexual abuse - it’s all under our umbrella,” said Dorrie Budde, 59th Mental Health Squadron domestic abuse victim advocate and licensed social worker.
The program works alongside military and local community agencies to put a plan in place to restore calm after something like a dispute, violent or verbally abusive incident or a concerning situation involving a child. They may work with agencies such as child protective services, victim’s advocacy, law enforcement, military security forces and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations to establish a safe environment for families during their trying times.
“We’re like the cab drivers on this crazy journey,” Budde said.
Advocates step in to educate, empower and navigate the rocky road, Budde explained. For one incident, up to four agencies can be involved in remedying the problem.
“We start looking for ways to insure that the victims are protected and also provide treatment for the individuals involved,” Carter said.
Advocates help victims find new housing if needed, search for employment, file for protective orders or even divorce. If a victim has to flee from their home without any money, advocates are even able to get them military financial assistance, especially if violence is involved, Budde said.
“Anytime anyone is the victim of a physical crime, they can be reimbursed for certain expenses that came as a result of the crime,” said Budde, adding those costs could include relocation and moving expenses.
Intervening during maltreatment situations are not the only way FAP provides support to the base populace.
Being a parent may be overwhelming at times and FAP can help. They have a wide range of services available, some that can even be provided in-home.
Family advocacy nurses can provide in-home counseling on childhood development, breast feeding strategies and help new parents cope with their new roles. They are able to teach parenting techniques and give guidance on how to meet the needs of children living in two homes due to divorce or separation. In addition, there are infant massage and car seat classes.
Along with the services assisting parents with struggles they may face rearing children, there are also resources for mental and emotional health.
There are classes on conflict resolution, coping with anger, communicating effectively, managing emotions and improving marital relationships
“We want to prevent issues when we can,” Carter said. “At some point all of us will need help and mental health is no different than seeking treatment for some kind of physical ailment in the family health clinic.”
The FAP is located in Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center on the third floor and is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information on the Family Advocacy Program, call 210-292-0418. In the event of an emergency, call the 24-hour crisis hotline at 210-367-1213.