Here to Help: Family Advocacy Supports JB MDL Families

By Staff Sgt. Jake Carter | Joint Base MDL Public Affairs | Oct. 8, 2020

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. —

For the members of Joint Base MDL, there’s always someone there to help in times of need. Whether it’s a co-worker or supervisor, the Family Advocate Program at the 87th Medical Group is always available to help cope with stressors in life as well.

Bernadette Peace, 87th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy intervention specialist, says there are two options that individuals and families can come in for to best suit what they need help with.

“The program is here to support families across the installation and we do that in two ways,” said Peace. “We offer support to families that need education on parenting, pregnancy and couples communication. Our other branch of service is for maltreatment families that can include domestic violence.”

With mental awareness being a hot topic in the military over the last few years, Peace says reaching out for help is a sign of strength rather than a weakness.

“There’s a concrete fear that this may have some negative affect on my career. There’s also the stigma fear that if I ask for help that it means I’m not as perfect as the world sees me,” said Peace. “The strongest people are people are the ones who recognize things aren’t perfect and reach out for help. Maybe it also will have a positive effect because the stressors your experiencing you will no longer bring it into your workplace. If people reach out to us, that doesn’t go on to your record or to your commander.”

Serving as an intervention specialist at Joint Base MDL since 2017, Peace worked with at risk teenagers in Colorado before arriving here. During her time there, that is where she really learned her passion to help others.

“I used to be a teacher for alternative school programs and teenagers at risk of not graduating high school,” said Peace. “Through that, I learned I had a passion to work more broadly with people. A lot of the teenagers I worked with had a lot going on in their lives. I started out working with youth in conflict and Child Protective Services. It broadened my knowledge on how things affect people before I came here in 2017.”

While Peace is still learning about the military, she noticed that distractions can have an effect on your daily life.

“There are certain things that can distract you from your focus in the military, and having stress in your family is one of them,” said Peace. “I think that the core of our wellbeing is our connectedness to others. If we are feeling disconnected, especially from people important in our lives, that can really affect our functioning and how we feel. I think supporting people and having healthy relationships is really core to someone’s wellbeing.”

October is domestic violence awareness month and if you are in a relationship and feel unsafe or mistreated, Peace urges to get the support you need and to talk with the Family Advocacy team.

“Most people that come to us, they seem to really benefit from it,” said Peace. “That’s why we are here.”

Family Advocacy is open Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If assistance is needed outside of normal hours, you are able to contact the Victim’s Advocate 24/7 at (609) 283-5015.