'Military One Source' Solves Service Member, Family Member Problems
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 30, 2004 The Defense Department has established a "one stop" place to go whenever service members or family members need assistance with any kind of problem.
It's called "Military One Source," and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, according to John M. Molino, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy.
"Military One Source is a revolutionary augmentation to the family services we currently have on military installations around the world," Molino explained during an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.
Each service had its own One Source program, and now DoD is bringing them together and calling it Military One Source, Molino noted.
He noted that it's intended to complement assistance offered to military families by the services. Molino said Military One Source "leverages technology and enables DoD to provide assistance to families and service members via the Internet or a toll-free telephone number."
The services include everything from common, everyday difficulties that might face a family to life's most complicated situations, he noted.
Molino said Military One Source is available 24 hours a day around the country and around the world. "It's a remarkable way to step forward into a new generation of providing services," he said. "It's a place where no matter when that situation occurs, the military family member or service member could make a phone call or go on the Internet and begin to get some help."
The military services provide a lot of family services on installations, but Molino pointed out that about two-thirds of military families live off base. "The people who are off the installation tend to be the most junior folks," he added.
"They may not have the financial resources to have two cars, or to get themselves back and forth to the installations to get those services," Molino continued. "So what One Source does is provide the opportunity to make that phone call and let us bring the services, literally, figuratively and electronically, to your home."
When someone calls Military One Source for help, the person answering the phone has at least a master's degree in social work or some kind of counseling service, Molino noted. "That person is trained specifically to deal with military issues -- issues that complicate military life. So they're very sensitive to what you ask," he said.
"Some people think they're the only people who ever experienced whatever their problem is, and, of course, they're not," Molino emphasized. "Most everyone goes through different phases and different cycles."
The voice on the other end doesn't make judgments about situations, he noted. "They're there to listen to what you have to say, evaluate it, and give you the beginnings of an answer or actually the answer to your question," Molino said.
Military One Source runs the gamut of situations: from needing a plumber in the middle of the night to fix a broken pipe, to needing veterinary service for a sick dog. It also handles things like helping families new to an area find childcare, or information about the school system, summer jobs whatever is needed.
"One Source can get all that information and provide it to you in a most efficient manner, whether it be electronically or getting back to you on the telephone," Molino said.
People shouldn't be afraid or embarrassed to seek help from Military One Source, he said, but he acknowledged some people may be reluctant to ask for help. "You try to convince people that the person at the other end of the phone isn't going to be judgmental about your situation," he said.
Word of mouth is the best way to get the word out about Military One Source within a unit, he noted. For example, Molino said, "If I'd made a phone call and had a positive experience, I can tell you about it. I can say, 'You know, I tried One Source one time, and it worked for me. You ought to give it a shot.' Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness; it's really a sign of being smart it's a sign of smartness," Molino said.
What bothers Molino is when people say they don't need help from Military One Source because of their unit assignment. "I heard that in some units they say, 'We're in an Army Ranger unit,' (or) 'We're in a Navy SEAL unit, and we don't need that kind of support,'" Molino said. "That's utter nonsense! If the pipe breaks in the middle of the night in the home of a Navy SEAL, you need a plumber just as badly as somebody else."
"When you figure out that this is a great resource that provides help, you ought take advantage of it," Molino said.
He pointed out when service members are deployed, they can put their minds at ease knowing that if their family needs help, it's only a phone call away.
Putting himself in that position, Molino said, "I would find it very comfortable to know that my family back home has that option, that service available. And they don't have to wait for the family center to open. They don't have to find a way to get to the family center. My wife wouldn't have to find a way to have the children taken care of.
"We can do things instantly, any time of the day or night," he continued. "If there's a language problem, One Source is able to provide services in more than 100 languages, usually in less than a minute's delay."
Military One Source also can be helpful to active duty service members. They don't have to take time off from work or training to solve a problem. All they have to do is call Military One Source, Molino noted.
He emphasized that Military One Source counseling service isn't mental health counseling, or counseling for an illness that might be burdening somebody.
"We have a health care system that provides that service," he noted. "This is a different kind of counseling. It's for folks that experience difficulties day to day. Let's say a service member has been deployed. The family has adjusted to his or her absence. Somebody is walking the dog, taking out the garbage. When he comes back, he has to fit back into the family. Others had performed those roles that he traditionally performed. Sometimes that creates friction."
All families have some degree of difficulty, and most of them manage to work through the problem. But sometimes they need a little assistance, and one toll- free phone call can get them that kind of counseling, Molino said.
Military Once Source also is available to National Guardsmen and reservists being called to active duty for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
"We found that it works as well for guardsmen and reservists, especially because they tend not to be close to military installations," Molino said. "They can get that kind of support through the armory. The Guard and Reserve components initially went in a different direction with a different provider. Then they realized that One Source actually was the gold standard, and they shifted over after about six months."
The toll-free numbers for Military One Source are:
- From the United States: (800) 342-9647.
- From outside the United States (where available): (800) 3429-6477.
- International collect: (484) 530-5747.