NEWS | Feb. 1, 2014

Joint Task Force-Bravo Chaplain's Office helps members "Find Strength for Military Marriages"

By U.S. Air Force Capt. Zach Anderson Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Twenty-six members of Joint Task Force-Bravo attended a marriage retreat at the Comayagua Golf Club in Comayagua, Honduras Jan. 30, 2014. The retreat was hosted by the Joint Task Force-Bravo Chaplain's office, with a focus on helping members overcome the increased stress military life places upon a marriage.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeff McMillen, Joint Task Force-Bravo Command Chaplain, said the retreat was a unique opportunity for members to learn and discuss ways to enhance their marriages while serving in a deployed environment.

"Marriage under the best of circumstances is difficult," said McMillen. "Place any marriage under the pressures of military life and the normal challenges are magnified. Long stretches of time apart, temptations for infidelity and many other issues make it difficult to keep your love strong for one another. As members of the military, we must work harder than average couples. It's incumbent upon the Chaplain Corps, and the military as a whole, to provide high-quality opportunities for encouragement and education. That is precisely what we sought to do."

The theme of the retreat was "Finding Strength for Military Marriages," with discussions on topics of communication, marriage pitfalls, and reintegration. Rather than a "classroom style" lecture, the open discussions were facilitated by eight Airmen and Soldiers from differing ranks and backgrounds, which encouraged open ended questions and cross-talk among the participants. Those who attended said the retreat provided valuable information on what makes a marriage work and what keeps it strong despite the rigors of military life.

"Being away from your spouse for an extended period of time is always difficult, but being able to share with others who are in the same or similar circumstance as yourself is beneficial," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Enfield, Joint Task Force-Bravo Communications Director. "If properly nourished, marriage relationships can grow stronger during deployments and events such as this retreat provide us the insight and additional tools we need to make that happen."

Enfield said that even after his nearly 27 years of marriage, he still learns from the wisdom and experiences of others, and the retreat provided him an opportunity to share as well as learn.

"The information shared by the participants helped identify various issues that couples need to be aware of and work through together," said Enfield. "We shouldn't expect exact step-by-step solutions as a result of the retreat, but instead to better understand what issues are out there and maybe have some tools to effectively communicate and resolve those issues together."

McMillen said he felt the retreat was a tremendous success and that each participant walked away with a better perspective on how to make a military marriage work, himself included.

"I was personally encouraged to hear from those who have made marriage work through decades of military service and repeated deployments," said McMillen. "What I came away with was the confidence that it can be done! I only wish every military member at Soto Cano could have come."