An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Features : Display
NEWS | July 1, 2013

Chapel counseling: Offering hope through communication

By Senior Airman Teresa Aber 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

"We spent almost every day together for three years. Then, after spending a year apart, it was like we were complete strangers and we needed a little assistance getting to know each other all over again."

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Iesha Wallace, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron physical medicine technician, had trouble readjusting to life with her fiancé, Jeffrey, after he returned from spending a year in Korea.

Luckily for Iesha, she was able to take advantage of resources available through the Langley Chapel. Counseling is offered in a confidential atmosphere where Service members and their families can speak with chaplains to discuss marital and pre-marital concerns, tough life decisions and other stresses that may come with a military lifestyle.

Iesha and Jeffrey met while stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Subsequently, after a permanent change of station to Langley three years later, Jeffrey received a year-long assignment to Korea. When he returned, the couple found themselves arguing more than usual.

"The biggest problem we had was our ability, or lack thereof, to communicate. We had to learn to work together and learn to balance each other's strengths and weaknesses," said Iesha. "We believed the chaplains would be able to assist us with things that were too big for us to realize on our own, so we made the decision together to go to counseling."

Marriage counseling sessions, which teach conflict resolution and communication skills, are more about education than therapy, and are often tailored to couples based on their individual needs. Most sessions focus on common problem areas for couples, such as communication and compromise, said Chaplain (Capt.) Tara Dixon, 633rd Air Base Wing chaplain.

"Communication is always the first aspect of any counseling session," said Dixon. "We always want to make sure people can effectively communicate with each other because that's going to be critical throughout relationship."

All of the Joint Base Langley-Eustis chaplains provide free counseling, something many Service members may not be aware of. Information discussed with chaplains is privileged information, and is not discussed with anyone, unless written consent is given by the individual.

"Having the comfort to know that whatever you discuss is confidential is very important," said Dixon. "It's reassuring for most individuals and allows them to open up to us more so we can get down to the issues at hand."

While most of the issues discussed are the same in all pre-marital counseling sessions, Dixon says the chaplains realize that military couples face their own unique problems, and counseling sessions are tailored to address potential stressors such as deployments, high-demand jobs and transient lifestyles.

"We offer counseling sessions for all types of issues such as pre- and post-deployment, pre-marital and marital counseling, and spiritual counseling," said Dixon. "We want members know we are here to listen and assist, no matter the situation."

Both JBLE chapels also offers marriage counseling and couples' workshops throughout the year that focus on communication skills.

"You and your partner have to set standards for what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice for the relationship," said Dixon. "Then you have to bridge those ideas and put them together which gives you each the respect for yourselves, for each other and the relationship."

The Wallaces recently tied the knot on June 1 and plan to use what they learned in their counseling sessions to strengthen their marriage.

"We were horrible at communication before, and now we are in a place where we can better recognize when we aren't communicating effectively so we can fix it," said Iesha. "We learned that we have to take time out to learn who the other person is so you can balance out each other's imperfections. Relationships aren't 50/50. You both have to give 100 percent."

For more information regarding counseling and other services provided by chaplains, contact the Langley Chapel at 764-7847 or the Fort Eustis Chapel at 878-1316.