Military families facing new challenges during the COVID-19 outbreak are reporting higher levels of anxiety and looking for ways to practice self-care to relieve stress, according to panelists on CMSI’s Tuesday town hall, “Self-Care and Resiliency for Military Families During COVID-19.”

Military and veteran families are often able to manage stressful situations because of past experiences related to their service.

“We know resilience is within us,” said Audri Buegelsdijk, the vice president of survivor services at Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which works with families of fallen service members. “In the military, there’s this attitude that we can do it again, because we did it before.”

Still, according to the CMSI Pain Points Poll, a rolling survey of military families and community leaders, 68% of military families are considerably more stressed than before the crisis. A slightly lower number of veteran family respondents reported increased stress levels.

“Self-care does not look the same to everyone,” said Maria McConville, a veteran and the spouse of Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville. “The important thing is that we give ourselves permission to self-care. Sometimes as parents we feel like we have to put our kids first. If we are not taking care of ourselves, we may not be doing a very good job of taking care of our kids.”

Many organizations are adapting their service models to provide virtual assistance.

The American Red Cross has made its resiliency training modules, usually conducted in-person, available online, including one for military families and veterans specifically on coping with COVID-19, according to Lynn Crabb, senior director of the Red Cross’ services to the armed forces. The sessions are facilitated by mental health professionals through local Red Cross locations, and those interested in participating should contact their local Red Cross.

The Red Cross is also helping military and veteran families through its Hero Care app, available on Apple and Android devices.

A full recording of the town hall is available on the CMSI website.