Vermont Family Programs aims to provide education, resources, and support through collaboration with federal, state, and local programs to ensure Service Members, families, Veterans, and the community are knowledgeable and resilient while promoting retention and mission readiness.

When I was in college, I had a professor who loved to recite the definition of EUSTRESS (what we want to engage in) versus DISTRESS (what we want to avoid) before a big test. He would say that eustress is moderate or normal psychological stress interpreted as being beneficial for us whereas distress is extreme anxiety, sorrow or pain. He instructed us to tap into our eustress rather than our distress during the test…easier said than done!

This professor was a Vietnam War veteran who completed 2 tours and learned how to constructively deal with stress-given the life and death situations he dealt with in combat, taking a test was not a big deal to him. His perspective on stress was healthy and appropriate and he wanted us to see that we have control over how we process stress. I’m sure this didn’t happen overnight for him, rather it took him many years to reach this level of “enlightenment”. Me, I just wanted to pass the test.

When stress is managed effectively, it can lead to personal growth, confidence and coping skills. For example, if you have the lead role in a theater production and are experiencing “butterflies” mixed in with excitement- that is eustress which can lead to great personal achievement.

If you find that you are in the “distress” column more than the “eustress” column, there is help for you here at Family Programs. The Military OneSource website ( has a whole section on managing stress under their Health & Wellness module that you can access. Our Family Assistance Center specialists (FACs) can provide you with both military and civilian resources proven to help reduce stress. Our very own mental health counselor, Charlene Caiano can help you develop the skills to work with the “thinking traps” we all fall into at one time or another. These are just a few of the resources available to you and your family.

Visit our website at: and explore the programs listed under the “Programs & Services” tab. On the right side of the pages, you will find our contact information (or a Contact Us button to click for those programs with multiple staff members). Or you can call our 24/7 VT Military & Family Support Center at 888-607-8773 that is there to help.

Have a great rest of the summer!

LTC Dave Leonard

State Family Program Director

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