Veteran, military spouse, and licensed counselor: Lisa Delcore's journey to the MFLC program
Lisa Delcore shows up. At muster, at boat launches, in the rain and mud, even in an explosive ordnance disposal dive locker, she's there. This is her vision for how to best support military members and their families as a counselor for the Military and Family Life Counseling Program (MFLC, pronounced em-flack).
Licensed in four states (Florida, Virginia, Hawaii, and California), Lisa has been an MFLC counselor since 2013. Lisa is a Navy veteran and a 22-year military spouse. Because of her professional and personal experience, Lisa likes being close to the action ― being located with the people who need her, directly embedded in their situations. As an embedded MFLC, she feels closely tied to the mission and better positioned to support those who serve.
“Leidos has 100% backed up my vision, and that's enhanced my ability to do what I do," Lisa says, explaining that she builds relationships gradually, being fully present in military members' workspace. “They're all wondering why I'm there with them. But it's all based on visibility and an organic, long-term 'showing up' to care about them and support them.” She helps servicemembers and their families peel back the onion to understand how to cope with and work through their challenges. Of course, when the call of duty requires it, Lisa is well-versed in the community’s other service offerings, ensuring servicemembers get the appropriate level of care they have so rightfully earned.
“These referrals mean more to people when they come from a warm, caring connection with someone they trust, so they'll actually use them," Lisa explains. Military members can have difficulty navigating service offerings that could benefit them and their families, so Lisa is there to help them navigate.
“My dad was in the Vietnam War. And we didn't talk about it," Lisa says. She had always felt a deep curiosity about her dad's story―and her aunt's, who was also a veteran―but no one in her family ever discussed it. Being a veteran herself and a military spouse, Lisa now has her own story to tell. She's not only willing to share it, but also uses those experiences to inform her counseling.
Six years in the Navy
As a teenager, Lisa split her time between school, lettering in surfing, scooping ice cream at work, and participating in the Explorer Program (a teen-focused search-and-rescue program run by the fire and police departments in Huntington Beach, California). Her grandmother encouraged her to pursue further education, but when she was accepted into a nursing program, Lisa couldn't cover the cost of tuition.
A police officer she knew from the Explorer Program encouraged her to look into the military, so she did, knowing nothing about the opportunities despite her family's military history. Thus began her 6-year Navy career. Lisa worked as a linguist on two different types of aircraft, collecting live voice interception in both Arabic and French that could prevent further danger to troops on the ground. This job took her from California, to Texas, to Spain. While stationed in Rota, Spain, she married her husband, Jamie, another linguist. Lisa loved what she did. But her job was deployable, which would separate her from Jamie for long periods.
“I had married friends who were dual military and saw their challenges," Lisa says. Ultimately, Lisa made the tough decision to separate from the military.
Transitioning from active duty to military spouse
Lisa had left her purpose. It took her time to fit in with the military spouse community outside of her uniform.
“My life timeline didn't match up with most of them. I had been in the military myself and wasn't yet educated like most others were," Lisa, who by this point had two sons, says. “I used to save people's lives. Now I was grounded and living in military housing while Jamie was whisked away into many deployments." Her grandmother's voice was in her head, saying, “Use your GI bill. Go back to school and finish what you set out to do." Within one year of leaving the Navy, Lisa earned her bachelor's degree. While pregnant with her third son, she decided it was time to pursue her next career.
“I was wondering what I wanted to do when I grew up, and my sister-in-law told me about counseling and suggested I get my master's degree," Lisa adds. While she completed her graduate program to become a licensed marriage and family therapist, Lisa had her third and fourth sons and considered how she wanted to use her new degree.
Lisa's rewarding second career and paying it forward
“I knew from the moment I got out of the Navy that my place was still with the military," she says. “I knew firsthand the difficulty with moves, the breakdown and rebuilding of trust, the struggle to communicate from afar and then in person with your spouse—and, of course, the expectation on the spouse to be able to do all of this with very little guidance. It was a community I wanted to serve as a counselor."
Military life comes with unique challenges. Her family, for instance, has had to move 12 times in 22 years, uprooting their boys' lives each time. Going through these experiences with four sons while maintaining her marriage and achieving her career goals created significant challenges, and Lisa couldn't always find the right counselor or psychiatrist when someone in her family needed special care. Fortunately, she had people in her life who pushed her not to give up.
“When life felt unbearable, these people were brave enough to sit next to me in my despair," she explains. “I want to pay that forward. My personal experience helps me stay calm and quiet in moments when others are struggling with something heavy. Sometimes all they need is a person strong enough to be still and listen while they unload. I'm comfortable in that discomfort. I can help them work through frustration and despair so they don't give up," she says. “I love that I get to support our military. I wake up in the morning and I'm excited to work."
MFLC counselors provide an invaluable service to our U.S. military members, their spouses and their children, many of whom are far from home, away from their own support networks. Because of this, she is there. Lisa Delcore shows up.
Interested in a career with the MFLC program? Learn more about joining its mission as a licensed behavioral health professional to support service members and their families as they work through important military life adjustments while serving their country.