A getaway to the beach is always an ideal place to relax, reconnect and reflect on the important things in life, which is exactly what recently redeployed Soldiers and their Families did on a recent weekend during the 98th Civil Affairs Battalion Family Redeployment Training at the Baywatch Resort in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The event kicked-off with a welcome supper followed by ice-breaker activities to give Soldiers and Family members the opportunity to get into the fun spirit of the weekend and greet one another. The training organizer and facilitator, Chaplain (Capt.) Jason Webster, the 98th CA Bn. chaplain, said the three-day training gives the attending 28 couples as much Family time on the beach as they spend in the classroom.
“The goals are to have fun, to be safe and to learn one thing … one (new) idea that (couples) can implement to have a better marriage relationship,” he explained. “I want them to feel more equipped in various communication techniques … I want them to feel enabled to grow in their relationships.”
The weekend agenda focused on enhancing and strengthening marital relationships, including learning techniques about communication and having a healthy marriage.
“I like the way he (chaplain) interacts with us and learning information about relationships and body language. It’s really good because I got the opportunity to learn more about my wife and she got the opportunity to know more about me,” said Ivan, a Soldier assigned to 98th CA Bn. “The chaplain assistant and the chaplain are really good at explaining all this stuff to make the relationship better.”
The couples also participated in self-learning and group learning where more experienced couples helped less-experienced ones. Couples listened intently as Soldiers and spouses openly discussed common relationship challenges and the strategies they used to overcome them.
“The best part was discovering my spouse’s love language. It gives me a better understanding of what she needs and wants from me,” said Thomas, another 98th CA Bn. Soldier. “It was nice to hear couples who have been married for a long time encourage newer couples with their secrets and success stories. These trainings are essential for improving relationships.”
The warm South Carolina weather provided the ideal setting for extending the classroom outdoors where couples practiced what they learned with their Families while playing on the beach.
“I made sure to get a hotel directly on the ocean so that Families can not only enjoy learning some techniques about communication and having a healthy marriage, but they can also go relax and have a good time with their Family,” said Webster. “I saw almost every one of the couples together as a Family. It wasn’t like just husband and wife or the husband sitting down by the beach, they were doing things together, which is one of the goals.”
The Families also seemed to appreciate the oceanfront and picturesque scenery.
“It’s beautiful here at the beach. The location is important because they get us away from the work environment,” said Yolanda, the wife of Ivan. “You get to see something new and relax on the beach. It’s really important.”
Thomas agreed. “The beach location adds to the relaxation-factor, making it easier to absorb the information presented,” he explained. “The best part was talking with my best friend (wife) on the beach to get a better understanding of what she needs and wants from me.”
The 98th CA Bn. chaplain provides Family redeployment trainings two to three times a year to help redeploying Soldiers and their spouses develop relationship-resiliency skills. The goal is to successfully manage and overcome potential marriage and Family challenges that may arise from redeployment.
“Chaplains at all command levels organize relationship-enriching events for Soldiers and Families to participate in and enjoy,” said Webster. “Each battalion chaplain, each brigade chaplain … they’re there for their Soldiers and Families to help them grow in their relationship, to be strengthened, to be equipped, so they’ll feel confident moving forward as a couple.”
For information on Family redeployment trainings and/or marriage retreats, contact your unit chaplain. Family counseling is available Monday to Friday at the Watters Family Life Center by calling 396-6564.