Q: Will this be kept confidential?
A: Information you provide to counselors will be kept confidential, except to meet legal obligations or to prevent harm to self or others. Legal obligations include requirements of law and Department of Defense (DoD) or military regulations. Harm to self or others includes suicidal thought or intent, a desire to harm oneself, domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, violence against any person, and any present or future illegal activity.
Q: Privacy—how does it work?
A: All contacts with Military OneSource, whether by telephone, Internet, or face-to-face, are private. No report is provided to the military as to the nature of the contact, except for the reportable issues listed below. The service member, as well as the service member's commander, is not advised when a family member calls or conducts an online visit or face-to-face non-medical counseling session. Military OneSource has the technology, the procedural infrastructure, and the highly trained staff to ensure that each user is treated confidentially and with respect regardless of rank. Information you provide to counselors will be kept confidential, except to meet legal obligations, including requirements of law and DoD or military regulations. Military OneSource consultants and counselors have a duty to report family maltreatment (spouse, child, elder abuse), threats of harm to self or others, substance abuse, and illegal activities. These reports are made to the appropriate military and civilian authorities.
Q: Are callers made aware of the reporting requirements?
A: Consultants read a statement to the caller at the beginning of each call that explains the limits of privacy as explained in the previous question and answer. A similar statement is provided to the user when contacting a consultant by email or online session. Information about issues within the confidentiality limits will not be released without signed authorization from the individual or someone who is legally permitted to give authorization on the individual's behalf.
Q: How are duty-to-warn issues reported and to whom?
A: Military OneSource non-medical counselors are mandated by federal and state law to report a caller threatening danger to himself or herself or others. Each of the Service branches have provided Military OneSource with a reporting protocol. In addition, when applicable, the proper civilian agencies will be notified. For instance, child-protective service agencies, as well as the nearest installation or Family Advocacy Office, are notified of reports of child abuse.
Q: How are suicide, child abuse, domestic abuse, or other imminent danger calls handled?
A: While Military OneSource is not promoted as a reporting or suicide hotline, these types of calls are sometimes received. Trained, master's-level consultants with the support of their team leaders and clinical supervisors follow protocols developed to provide immediate assistance.
Q: How can imminent danger callers be helped (those who call about suicide, child abuse, or domestic abuse)?
A: For a suicidal caller, the consultant will try to keep the caller on the line to determine imminent danger. In extreme cases, other Military OneSource team members can contact local emergency resources and the military authority and direct them to provide in-person assistance. If imminent danger is not an issue, the consultant will find community and installation resources for referral and follow-up with telephone calls as the situation requires. For spouse abuse, the Military OneSource consultant will do a risk assessment to help determine danger. When possible, the consultant will keep the caller on the line for a three-way call to the proper military or civilian resource. In every case, consultants will follow reporting protocol. If risk or danger is high, the consultant will make sure that the proper law enforcement agencies are notified. In addition, the consultant will guide the caller to resources in the local community, such as shelters, counselors, victim advocates, and chaplains. Follow-up phone calls will be made if the caller agrees. For child abuse callers, the Military OneSource consultant will attempt to keep the caller on the line for a three-way call to the proper reporting agencies, but all calls must be reported to the proper military authorities, the local child-protective service agency, and/or the local law-enforcement agency. The consultant will also locate community and installation resources and possibly educational materials. Follow-up phone calls will be made to provide further help.
Q: What happens in cases when the caller or victim of domestic violence does not want the command to know?
A: Military OneSource follows the guidelines established by each branch of Service. Military OneSource consultants explain the privacy limits at the beginning of each contact with a caller or emailer. When identified, these cases must be reported to the proper military reporting point of contact. Military OneSource consultants are generally able to help the caller to stay on the phone for a three-way reporting call and to make contact with the military support agencies.
Q: Can someone receive assistance for spouse abuse and remain anonymous?
A: If a caller remains anonymous, Military OneSource will provide resource information about spouse-abuse shelters, victim advocates, hotlines, and the Military OneSource website where people can read information or listen to audio tips. The caller will also receive coaching over the phone and may eventually decide to give his/her name. Consultants do whatever they reasonably can to help a caller who wishes to remain anonymous.
Q: Is Military OneSource a resource for domestic/family violence counseling?
A: No, Military OneSource is not a resource for domestic/family violence counseling. However, educational materials, such as articles about healthy relationships and parenting, are available on the website.