SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Individuals affected by sexual infidelity can tap into a new source of support, information and healing starting Monday at the first meeting of Family Fighters.

It’s a touchy subject, but those “who are sure” an unfaithful relationship took place or exists need such a program, base chaplain Lt. Sunny Mitchell said Thursday. The program is sponsored by the Religious Ministries Department with assistance from the Fleet and Family Support Center.

“Of course, it’s not designed to fight against families,” joked Elaine Horrell, director of clinical services at FFSC. “It’s designed to fight for the families when unfaithfulness in marriage has occurred.”

According to both Mitchell and Horrell, there is no statistical support to suggest infidelity is more severe a problem in the military than in civilian communities, but it is a serious issue. At a small base such as Sasebo, it can “seem greater because we are in such a fishbowl here,” Horrell said.

Family Fighters started after Mitchell was approached by “several concerned spouses and I had also been thinking about a program like this in terms of it being a problem in the military,” she said. “We sort of put our heads together and came up with the Family Fighters idea.”

Then it became clear, she added, that FFSC should be involved because of their resources and expertise.

“One contributing factor in the military is the long absences. Someone in a relationship where faithfulness is an agreed-upon factor, as most marriages tend to be, can become very lonely,” she said. “If the opportunity arises, they might form these relationships that they really should not.”

Family Fighters intends to use utmost discretion as much as possible, she said.

“We are going to strongly stress anonymity. It can’t be guaranteed, but this group is all about offering support to people and does not have any sort of legalistic interest,” Mitchell said.

“This is an issue we are approaching as an overall health issue, and that means physical, mental and spiritual health,” Horrell said. “Our goal from the very beginning for those who come is to focus on what to do next and healing.”

Mitchell said the first six weeks include an initial program covering specific topics related to unfaithfulness in marriages.

“After the initial six weeks, the group will continue in a support-group format,” she said. “The initial six-week program will be repeated as the need arises.”

The first meeting is from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Monday at the Hario Housing Village Chapel. The group plans to meet weekly at the same time and location.

Call Horrell at DSN 252-3113 or Mitchell at DSN 252-3507 for more information.

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