Military to Provide Secular Counseling Option

Update: A broader official view of the Military Family Life Consultant (MFLC) can be seen at the official website.

In addition to providing chaplains and psychologists, the US military is also making contract civilian clinical counselors available to those who want confidential counseling.  From the Army National Guard site on the subject, the DoD provides Military Family Life Consultants (MFLCs) who

are licensed clinicians with a Masters Degree and at least five years of experience in social work, counseling, or a related clinical discipline.

While psychologists or visits to base Mental Health might generate attention, the MFLC program is specifically designed to be confidential.  The consultants do not even maintain written records of those they see.  According to Department of Defense regulations, they are only obligated to divulge information about the visits

to meet legal obligations or to prevent harm to self or others.

The consultations are free, the consultants are very accessible, and the meetings can address a range of subjects.  The MFLC effort is one of several initiatives the US military has taken to encourage troops to seek help when they need it by making it available, attempting to remove the stigma of getting help, and making help as anonymous and confidential as possible.

Every servicemember, regardless of their ideology, can obtain the confidential services of a chaplain.  If they choose not to, they can still see a practitioner under the medical system, but if they prefer another form of confidential counseling, the MFLC provides yet another avenue of help.  In an era of PTSD and an epidemic of suicide in the US military, every channel can help.

By the same token, these counseling options provide everyone access to the same resources.  Thus, when atheists say they need an atheist chaplain, their argument falls flat.  Every servicemember can go to any chaplain.  If someone insists on a “non-religious” option, the MFLC provides that with the same confidentiality; unless, of course, they plan to hurt themselves or someone else.