The Whole Warrior Approach

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tony DeFilippo, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia. (June 30, 2015) – It’s only a few weeks before you leave for a six-month deployment. You’re fighting with your wife constantly. Your son is failing algebra. Your mortgage payment is late, and you barely ever sleep. There is no way you can fix all of this before you leave, but you’re not alone.

Eriberto Franqui is the Warrior and Family Support Coordinator for Naval Special Warfare Group TWO (NSWG-2). He works directly for Capt. Pete Vasely, the NSWG-2 Commodore, to ensure every single NSW member, and their families, receive any support they need.

“We can spend millions of dollars training SEALs, but if your home is not ok, it doesn’t matter, you’re going to be weighed down with stress and your head won’t be in the game,” said Franqui. “That’s where I know we make a difference.”

The Warrior and Family Support Team can connect Sailors to an incredibly wide variety of services including marriage counseling, tutoring, financial advising and mental health professionals. Whatever problem you’re having, they will point you in the direction of someone who can help.

NSWG-2’s Warrior and Family Support Team relies heavily on the Navy SEAL Foundation for support. They have more than 30 programs for all NSW active duty service members, reservists and retirees designed to enhance the resiliency and well-being of warriors and their families. Alisson Messick, the Navy SEAL Foundation’s director of programs, says they focus on five pillars of support: education opportunity, legacy preservation, warrior and family support, tragedy assistance and survivor support. Some services they provide include financial assistance, legal services, tutoring for kids and helping surviving family members start new careers.

Messick says they take a “whole warrior, whole family” approach to their programs. The philosophy is if a warrior and their family are strong as a whole, they are more mission ready. That’s where programs like their post-deployment resiliency retreats and ombudsman conferences come into play. Messick says these programs allow warriors and their families to address their issues and remain mentally strong so they are ready when the mission calls.

Franqui says the best part of his job is actually seeing the programs in action and working. He remembers one Sailor specifically who came to him because he was having problems in his marriage and had just picked up the papers to start filing for divorce. After talking with Franqui for a while, he agreed to try some counseling and now he thanks Franqui every time he sees him because his marriage is better than ever.

No matter what problem you’re having, Franqui has one piece of advice. “Don’t wait until you need me. Come see me before the situation gets out of control.”

Franqui and Messick both believe for a Sailor to be successful, they need to be healthy as a whole. Commanders spend a lot time and energy ensuring their Sailors are mentally and physically fit, and Messick considers programs like the Warrior and Family Support Team and the Navy SEAL Foundation as tools in a commander’s tool kit to help achieve that goal.

To contact the Warrior and Family Support Team, call 757-763-2543. For more information on the Navy SEAL Foundation, visit their website http://www.navysealfoundation.org/.

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