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Service Member Counselor Program (SMCP)

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What is SMCP?
Service (military, veteran, and first responder) marriages encounter unique cultural and occupational stressors that threaten to diminish the quality and sustainability of the relationship. This program is a partnership between the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work and the Taya and Chris Kyle Foundation and is designed as an educational tool for civilian counselors who desire to effectively help service couples strengthen service member marriages.

80 percent

Why is it important?
Contrary to what civilians might think, most often members of the service community do not have the luxury of talking with other members of their community. There is an unspoken rule, or undercurrent, that the servicemembers career can be negatively impacted by sharing issues they face. If a spouse shares issues with another spouse, the reality is, it could get back to leadership, and this is a possibly of it negatively impacting the service member's career.

As we know, 80% of service member suicides are relationship related. This isn’t out of a lack of love, it stems from a lack of tools to effectively address the issues unique to service couples. Isolation is a real issue for both service member and spouse. Changing schedules can impact their ability to connect with each other. Lack of understanding from the civilian community can also be a source of frustration and impede willingness to share marital issues stemming from a service life.

What can you do?
The goal of the SMCP program is to educate more civilian counselors in the issues service members face and to develop an awareness of how to approach these issues in a way that puts the service family at ease and encourages them to be vulnerable enough to get to the root of the issues threatening their family life, and sometimes their individual lives.

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The highly specialized curriculum of the SMCP program empowers clinician effectiveness by providing critical assessment and intervention skills with issues that affect military, veteran, and first responder couples, giving mental health care practitioners the cultural sensitivity that is essential to effectively supporting these marriages.

The program consists of six, one-hour modules available online 24/7, with APP capability include these topics:

  • Module 1—Introduction to SMCP
  • Module 2—Military/VA Culture
  • Module 3—First Responder Culture
  • Module 4—Strengths, Opportunities, and Challenges of the Serving Spouse
  • Module 5—Strengths, Opportunities and Challenges of the Supporting Spouse
  • Module 6—Specialized Clinical Practice Skills for military, veteran, and first responder Couples

We hope to be a resource for service families. As more counselors complete the SMCP, we hope to develop a network of available counselors our service couples can go to, a referral network across the country of understanding counselors who can give our service families the tools they need to save their families.

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We have seen hundreds of couples on the brink of divorce who, when given the right tools for their service marriage, change their trajectory impacting generations to come. This gift, the gift of family and a safe place to come home to, is the very least we can do to thank them for keeping the rest of safe in the land of the free.

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