A resource page for our military, veterans, and their families...
About the Pastor:
A recently retired U.S. Navy Chaplain, Rev. Vinson Miller is a board-certified clinical chaplain. He is generally available for "walk-in" appointments for individual and couple counseling at the church office in the mornings, but it's best to call ahead! Office hours are Monday-Thursday (9 AM - 2 PM), and on Friday by appointment only. All counseling is considered "protected" communication under the pastor's ordination vows and by federal case law.
SPIRITUAL, MENTAL HEALTH & DEPLOYMENT RESOURCES
MILITARY CHAPLAINCY SERVICES:
- (757) 878-1304 - 24/7 On Call Duty Chaplain, for emergency counseling and referral.
- (757) 878-2202 - Family Life Chaplain. Provides confidential counseling, marriage enrichment education, and other resources.
- (757) 878-1316 /1304 - Fort Eustis Chapel, 0830-1300. Provides worship services and confidential counseling.
- (757) 438-3822 - 24/7 Area Wide Duty Chaplain. Provides confidential counseling and referral. Does not travel north of the Hampton-Roads Bridge Tunnel, but will connect personnel to the right chaplain!
- (757) 444-1091 - CREDO Mid-Atlantic. Provides retreats and seminars for married and single active duty DoD personnel, and activated reservists.
- (757) 444-7361 - Naval Station Norfolk Chapel, 0800-1600. Provides worship services and confidential counseling
- (757) 887-4711 - Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Chapel, 0800-1500. Provides worship services and confidential counseling.
- MARINE CORPS:
- (757) 438-3822 - 24/7 Area Wide Duty Chaplain. Provides confidential counseling and referral. Does not travel north of the Hampton-Roads Bridge Tunnel, but will connect personnel to the right Marine chaplain!
- AIR FORCE:
- (757) 764-7847 - Air Force Base Langley Chapel.
- (757) 764-5411 - Contact to request after-hours chaplain support.
- COAST GUARD:
- (757) 686-2160 - Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads chaplain.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL
- Military One-Source - (800) 342-9647 or go www.militaryonesource.mil for online chat. Provides referrals for confidential counseling and a wealth of resources for military personnel and family members.
- Tricare Appointment Line - (866) 645-4584.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR VETERANS:
- Veterans Crisis Line - (800) 273-8255, for 24/7 assistance to veterans and/or family members assisting vets.
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline - (800) 273-8255, for 24/7 assistance. Click on "button" below to chat online!
SUICIDE INTERVENTION & PREVENTION
Concerned, but not sure what to look for? Check out this video produced by the pastor.
Additional resources can be viewed on the "FAMILY LIFE RESOURCES" tab of this website
Click on the buttons below for retreat & seminar programs in the Hampton-Roads area that serve military families and veterans - at no cost.
Military personnel deploy, often.
The below information is provided for military families, and those seeking to be of support.
More information will be added, but this is a start!
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact Rev. Miller.
Deployment presents challenge... and opportunity. Address the emotional and pragmatic concerns ahead of time; realize preparation will not eliminate family stress. Prior to deployment, husbands and wives, "significant" others, parents and children, and siblings will often find themselves bickering among themselves -- even though this is the very time most families want to be close to one another and have an enjoyable farewell. This heightened stress and even withdrawal (seen as anger), is a "normal" reaction:
Express Your Feelings - Be as open as possible with each other about what you are thinking, and those concerns and fears that involve the separation. Discuss the practical... like financial management and car maintenance; talk about your relationship.
Encourage One Another - If your child (or your spouse, for that matter) is acting particularly quarrelsome or mischievous, help him / her to express his / her feelings about the deployment. Some children struggle to find the right words; with a little help they will be able to tell you what they are thinking.
Plan Family Activities - Plan ahead for some time as a couple and as a family -- then use these activities as an opportunity to set aside all of your other concerns and enjoy one another's company. Be sure to spend individual time with each child before you go.
- Emergency phone number list. In cellphone and “hard copy” on fridge? Emergency childcare? Babysitter list handy?
- Discuss: Major events expected during deployment. Frequency of correspondence and phone calls -- set a budget on calls. Correspondence -- tell kids what they will receive and what they might send. Decide Ahead Regarding "Bad News" which must be shared with each other. Deployment budget: Phone & credit card usage, recreation, gifts, emergency funds for family. Household bills, payment dates, mailing addresses. What to do if a car or major appliance breaks down. Children's discipline: chores, rules, curfews, punishment / rewards. Medical emergencies... What should be done? Who can help? Medical Power of Attorney in place for a relative or friend?
- Set aside time for family fun and recreation.
- Plan Ahead For Missed "Special Days" – like ordering flowers/gifts in advance for holidays and special occasions, or make arrangements with a reliable friend. Amid the work of deployment, one can "forget" or not be able to "make the call."
- Videorecording is always an option. Read your child's favorite books or go over flash cards -- it maintains involvement in the child's learning and provides that "Daddy or “Mama” fix" with young children. Works very well!
- Photos of the servicemember and spouse, and with each child (for bedside).
- Mail service can vary, but letters are more private than email or the phone and can be re-read.
- E-Mail is s ometimes limited at deployed locations and training sites.
- Talk. Talk to your children about how you feel about being gone and let them tell you how they feel (especially their fears).
- Parent Time. The parent that's deploying needs to spend quality time with each child and with all the children together. Hugs and affection are always needed to reassure them, especially younger children.
- Deployment Planning. Allow the kids to help pack, swap tokens (something small of each child's and something of the deployer's).
- Deployment Communications. Encourage the kids to talk about how they will keep in touch and how the deployer will keep in touch with them: letters, postcards, video and audiotapes, photos, drawings, etc.
COPING WITH THE DEPLOYMENT
- Stay Connected. Don't isolate yourself. Continue to spend time with friends, support group, volunteer work, church, etc.
- Establish a Schedule, and then stick with it. Routines help with every age.
- Set Goals. Reading, hobbies, taking classes, etc.
- Plan a Trip. As finances allow, explore something new or visit out of area family.
- Look for Free Fun in MWR and community.
- Exercise. Check out the base gym or one in town. Join a class or start one.
- Talk With the Kids about deployment, phone calls & letters received. Keep photos nearby.
- Grown-up Talk. Don't get "marooned" with the kids… socialize with other adults.
- Review the positive things from each day. Positive self-feedback.
- Get Help, if you stay "down" or depressed. Don't put it off. Talk with your PCM, talk with base chaplain or talk with the pastor at First Christian Church.
RETURN & REUNION PREPARATIONS
After being deployed to the other side of the world, return is a time of adaptation. It’s a joyful time with a measure of stress… that is normal. The nearer the return gets, the more realistic become the joys and the stresses we will face upon arrival. These create excitement and sometimes they create tension. Nevertheless, we can’t wait to be back together with the ones we love. Too easily we build fantasies about what it will be like, and yet the bills, diapers, personalities, routines, and problems of daily living are still there. By the end of the first week lots of fantasy may disappear and reality will be back! Readjustment exists, no matter the number of times we have deployed! For most, there is little difficulty in transitioning home. Use the resources available - through the military as well as your church family and pastor. We are here for you!
- Your spouse is your #1 priority. Communicate. Help her/him with the adjustment of having you around.
- Listen and try to understand. Learn what she/he has been through without you at home.
- Expect your spouse to be different. She/he had to be independent with increased responsibilities.
- Don’t hassle the finances. A lot of decisions had to be made in your absence.
- Give needed space, from time to time. Adjusted to being without each other, it’s an adjustment to being a couple again.
- Expect a mini-second honeymoon. But don’t force it; it’s usual to be a bit awkward at first. Treat this time with love, understanding, humor and patience. It IS a second honeymoon, not just for the romance, but getting to know each other again.
- Finally… Communicate!!! If you’re unsure of yourself, say so gently and lovingly. If you sense she is unsure… understand. All marriages take work, yours is no different!
USEFUL TIPS FOR SPOUSES:
- Expect him/her to be different. Coping with separation tends to make one's mate more independent, more self-reliant person. Those who’ve done deployments before will remember this from before! Expect some of this change to be permanent. (Guys: She’ll never again be quite as dependent upon you... do not interpret this to mean: “She doesn’t need me anymore.”) Being able to do without someone is not the same as wanting to be without that person. Be proud your mate has managed so well in you absence. Tell him/her how proud you are!
- Know that you are also different. She will also find that you’ve changed. Some changes, like your mate's, are because you’ve matured, and some are temporary adaptations to being apart. (For instance, you may be perceived as messy and inattentive to family schedules). Keep an open mind to listen to expressed concerns.
- Expect her to be uncomfortable or even angry if you plunge right into your “father role”’ changing rules and regulations with the kids. She feels she’s done a good job with the kids, and may want you to work back into your “Dad” role gradually.
- Expect the family “schedule” to have changed in your absence. Dinner may not “wait” on you. The type of meals may need to be readjusted to cooking the kind of meals you like. (Dinner may have many times been cereal, for instance!) Classes and/or other activities of the children may have changed the routine – making things unpredictable. Patience and loving words vice criticism and complaints will ease everyone's anxieties!
- Expect there to be apprehension about expenditures. He/she may want to know you approve of how financial affairs have been handled, and keep managing the family income.
- Expect to spend a lot of time just sitting and talking with each other. Let's be honest there is nothing like face-to-face conversation, in spite of Skype, etc.
- Expect some anger and resentment to be vented if there have been some issues with living conditions during separation. That can range from staying with relatives he/she doesn’t like, or deployment happened right after a birth, your marriage, etc.
- Expect him/her to be a little bit envious of your travels, even if the places haven’t been terribly exciting. He/she may just want a vacation, especially if he or she has had all the responsibility for taking care of your children. Get someone to stay with the kids, but not right away... first enjoy being home!
- Expect YOU to have exhaustion and fatigue from the deployment In the safety and love of home, the body crashes! Keep the schedule light for a couple weeks upon return.
- Finally.... if married for less than 3 years, I will make the observation that marriages tend to stop their natural development during deployments, in spite of the best of communication. A good rule of thumb for such young marriages? Take a calendar out, "X" out the months you have been away from each other during work-ups & deployments, then add up how many months you were together - and then ask yourself what you would expect of a couple with that number of months together. It is a helpful way to step back and extend a bit of grace to one another.