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The Family Life Center is up and running on Fort Wainwright, and Maj. Dwight Broedel is the new garrison family life chaplain.
“Family life centers are on every installation in the Army, and each is different, because they are created and recreated by the assigned chaplain,” Broedel said, who has been stationed at Fort Wainwright for just more than three months. “The Fort Wainwright Family Life Center is as new as I am here.”
The Family Life Center is located beside the Northern Lights Chapel in Bldg.+ 3429 on Rhineland Avenue.
“The center has three comfortable counseling areas. Each is set up to record sound and video for training purposes. We can turn the cameras on and off, depending on the client’s circumstances,” Broedel said. “I also provide care to the caregivers. In addition to counseling clients in crisis, I train, coach and provide clinical supervision to two interns and to as many as 20 chaplains when all the deployed units are home.”
Chaplains serve God and country.
“Army chaplains minister to the nation’s sons and daughters and their families,” said Fort Wainwright garrison chaplain Lt. Col. David Neetz. “All chaplains are highly qualified, ordained ministers and act as the soul and conscience of our nation’s Army. The chaplaincy has been referred to as the mother figure of the Army family. The ‘dad’ is the hard-charging, mission-focused combat arms type; and the chaplain is the one to bring balance to the system, taking care of the human issues of the Soldier, while making sure ‘dad’ stays on course.”
Neetz served as a Family Life Center chaplain from 1999 through 2002.
The chaplain’s primary responsibility is to take care of Soldiers.
“My role is essential to keeping the war fighter fighting,” Broedel said. “If the family is stable at home, then the Soldier can go and do great things.”
Counseling is available to all military identification card holders.
“We have some awesome counseling programs for Soldiers, service members, family members, Department of Defense employees, retirees and even foreign liaison officers,” Broedel said. “Our service is confidential, and we’re here to improve the quality of life.”
Family Life Center chaplains receive specialized training.
“I received my chaplain’s family life training at Fort Hood, Texas. The 14-month training program is intensive, and graduates come away with a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor,” Broedel said. “We become very skilled in pastoral care and counseling, family therapy and group processing.”
There are several ways for someone to get help from the Family Life Center chaplain.
“Because of client confidentiality, there isn’t a lot of visibility on all of our counseling programs,” Broedel said. “We’re known mostly by word of mouth, and most of those we see have come to us through referrals from the battalion chaplains, social services, the Medical Department Activity-Alaska, unit leaders and walk-in self referrals.”
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is one therapy method Broedel uses.
“EMDR has been most successful with trauma and (post traumatic stress disorder) patients,” he said. “In EMDR therapy, the client watches the green lights of a light bar go back-and-forth while discussing disturbing material with the therapist.
“This process helps the client see the disturbing material in a new and less distressing way,” he continued. “The process is similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or rapid eye movement sleep. EMDR success depends mostly on the will of the client to get better.”
Broedel is United Methodist by denomination.
“I agree with the philosophy of Anglican cleric and Christian theologian John Wesley that the world is my parish. Alaska is my parish, so National Guard and Reserve Soldiers and family members are welcome,” Broedel said. “I work with the local school counselors (and) with student deployment groups on post and in the Fairbanks area.
“The support groups were formed by school counselors to allow the children to express what it’s like being the child of a deployed Soldier and living with a single or solo parent,” he continued. “In doing this, I’m also providing the children with someone they can feel comfortable asking questions that they wouldn’t normally ask their parents.”
Appointments at the Family Life Center are available for couples, singles, children, youth and families. Broedel can be reached by calling 353-6112 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fort Richardson Family Life Center is located in Bldg. 658 and can be reached by calling 384-5433.