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Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Davis, a personnel officer with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe in Stuttgart, Germany, said it’s common for a young servicemember to favor the latest money-costing gadgets over building a nest egg.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Davis, a personnel officer with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe in Stuttgart, Germany, said it’s common for a young servicemember to favor the latest money-costing gadgets over building a nest egg. (Charlie Coon / S&S)
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Davis, a personnel officer with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe in Stuttgart, Germany, said it’s common for a young servicemember to favor the latest money-costing gadgets over building a nest egg.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Davis, a personnel officer with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe in Stuttgart, Germany, said it’s common for a young servicemember to favor the latest money-costing gadgets over building a nest egg. (Charlie Coon / S&S)
Christine Kilbride, a family and victim advocate from Vicenza, Italy, says holiday stress is normal, but becomes acute when a spouse is deployed.
Christine Kilbride, a family and victim advocate from Vicenza, Italy, says holiday stress is normal, but becomes acute when a spouse is deployed. (Charlie Coon / S&S)

GARMISCH, Germany — A lot of people have heard of Military One Source, the employee assistance program for servicemembers.

Troops overseas are barraged by “One Source” ads on American Forces Network television and radio, and by posters hung around bases. Incoming troops are told of the service after arriving at their new station.

“With most folks it’s just information overload — until they need something,” said Harold E. Cooney Jr.

That could be now.

Military One Source, which provides free counseling and other services, is bracing for a rush as stress, money woes and deployments weighing on troops and families during the holiday season.

Cooney, vice president of military client services for Ceridian, the corporation that administers Military One Source, said its 5,500 providers of nonmedical counseling are entering their busiest season.

Also, starting later this month, the service will provide TurboTax, an income tax-preparation program, free of charge. The new benefit was publicized this week at the U.S. European Command’s Quality of Life Conference in Garmisch.

Holiday stress is normal, according to Christine Kilbride, a family and victim advocate from Vicenza, Italy. Consequently, it’s when many people reach out for help with their marriages, child-care issues and other problems.

The issues become acute when a spouse is deployed, she said.

“Being alone actually increases the sadness and feelings of loneliness, because you just want to be together for the holidays,” said Kilbride, wife of an Army captain with the Southern European Task Force.

“When I talk with friends about what they want for the holidays, they say, ‘all I want is Joe.’ But when you want something you can’t have it gets discouraging, because that’s what you have and that’s what you are.”

Military One Source receives about 11,000 to 12,000 phone calls per month on its toll-free line, Cooney said. The top request, he said, is for help in managing money, often by young people who spend freely, then find themselves in trouble.

“I used to be the same way,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Davis.

Davis, a personnel officer with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe in Stuttgart, said it’s common for a young servicemember to favor the latest money-costing gadgets over building a nest egg.

“You’ve got $2,000 in your pocket, and the next thing you know you’ve got $200,” Davis said. “You wasted $1,800 on crap you don’t really need.”

Davis said that Military One Source is well advertised and is used by Marines he knows.

Marine Corps One Source was the first to launch, in October 2002. The Army followed in August 2003, and the Navy and Air Force in January 2004. Military One Source brought all the services under its umbrella earlier this year.

“It’s cheaper than having each of the services reach out and touch hundreds of thousands of families who are spread out all over the place,” Cooney said.

Military One Source hopes to add 2,000 providers to its network in the next few years.

“It’s not just a matter of numbers, it’s a matter of having the right numbers in the right places,” Cooney said.

He noted that with the high numbers of guardsmen and reservists being deployed, the need for help now reaches far beyond the traditional military hubs. The goal, Cooney added, is to have a provider within 30 miles of each potential client.

“The last thing we want is for someone to call for a referral, then they can’t get in to see someone for three weeks,” Cooney said.

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