Family advocacy – empowering Laughlin Airmen

Organizers, mentors and supporters for the 47th Medical Operations Squadron’s family advocacy program gather at the Losano Fitness Center at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 10, 2017. The family advocacy program offers courses designed to manage any types of stress, to channeling emotions of anger into happiness, or to help expecting or current parents gather more ideas to further ensure their children’s success, the classes are designed to help make life both easier and more fruitful.

Casey Molleson, 47th Medical Operations Squadron social worker, works with Airmen representing the family advocacy program during an exhibition at the Losano Fitness Center at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, March 22, 2017. Molleson, the organizer and teacher for many of the program’s classes, feels the courses are a way to reach Airmen and support them through issues that either are not covered by other base programs or where their issues could possibly be put into their medical records.

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

For many Airmen, the struggle of balancing long hours on duty while maintaining a healthy family or social life may prove challenging.

Recognizing life situations in the professional and personal environments, the 47th Medical Operations Squadron has organized several classes under the family advocacy program.

Casey Molleson, the organizer and teacher for many of the program’s classes, teaches the classes as a way to reach Airmen and support them through issues that either are not covered by other base programs or where their issues could possibly be put into their medical records.

“I’m hoping they take away tools for their toolkit, or skills that maybe they haven’t had or maybe had, but forgotten about,” Molleson said. “We have books, DVDs, [and] pamphlets that help teach the class in a condensed but realistic way. They’re fun classes, and we have a lot to offer.”

From ways to manage any types of stress, to channeling emotions of anger into happiness, or by helping expecting or current parents gather more ideas to further ensure their children’s success, the classes are designed to help make life both easier and more fruitful.

“When it comes to these classes, a lot of people think about how they don’t do anything for them or about how they may be a bad parent or spouse, or about how it may open a mental health record,” Molleson said. “It’s not about any of that. We want to make their lives easier and give them more tools to incorporate into what they’re doing or to help them find a different route that may work better. It’s all education based.”

Recently added classes, by popular request, include teen dating, couple’s communication and couples link. These classes are designed to help single Airmen reach out and find the right person for them, and how to maintain that relationship in a healthy way.

“We’re always looking for feedback for different classes, and of dates and times. I thrive off feedback of people,” Molleson said. “We want to expand, but more importantly we want to cater to the Laughlin population because they’re so unique.”

Lt. Col. Britt Warren, 47th Operations Support Squadron commander, advocates attendance to the classes by his Airmen not only to help them remain positive and productive at work. More importantly, according to him, to give them life skills and tools to help them for the rest of their lives.

“We’ve done a poor job of putting emphasis on life skills in society,” Warren said. “These are very helpful classes that, outside Laughlin, cost hundreds of dollars and you would have to go to on your own time at night.”

A big advocate of personal and professional development, Warren attended several classes to help him throughout various periods of his life.

“I went to some classes that helped me. I learned how to change diapers,” Warren said. “I learned how to try and take care of a baby when my wife was pregnant [with] our first child. I don’t know how to do that naturally, and the feeling that I felt when I left the hospital was: ‘OK, you’re just going to let me walk out of here with no idea of what I’m doing.’”

Having experienced the classes for himself, and after discussing the value of them with Chief Master Sgt. George Richey, 47th Flying Training Wing command chief, Warren gives his Airmen time away from work to attend the classes.

“I don’t do it just because it’s good for the Air Force, but because it’s good for the Airmen,” Warren said.

Warren’s theory of the classes is if an Airmen attends and learns productive life skills that helps them in society, they could become productive members of society and tell the public about what they’ve learned while in the military. This results in more people joining the service, and comes full circle in the end.

To inquire or sign up for a class, contact or leave a message for the 47th MDOS mental health clinic at 298-6422 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.