13th SC (E) Marriage Enrichment Retreat: Spiritual Battle Proofing Families

Spc. Fabian Ortega

Fifty-eight percent of the Army’s Soldiers are married; one-third of first time Soldiers do not complete their enlistment as a result of difficulties in relationships.

Cpt. Tom R. Medley, a Chaplain with 13th SC (E) chaplain’s office, is among several chaplains on Fort Hood leading “Strong Bonds” Marriage Enrichment Retreats to help preserve those relationships.

“A poet once said ‘Distance makes the heart grow fonder.’” “He was wrong!” said Medley. “Distance makes the heart forget.”

Medley and the 13th SC (E) chaplain’s office have led 7 marriage retreats to date, working with 175 couples.

The purpose of the retreats, Medley said, “Is to let couples get away from Fort Hood and give them an opportunity to connect on a personal level.” “The retreat is a great place to learn how to fall in love again,” he said.

The agenda is based on the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) and consists of three phases: Awareness, skill building and integration.

This month’s retreats were scheduled to coincide with the 64th Corps Support Group redeployment, the 13th SC (E) largest brigade. The 64th CSG recently redeployed three headquarters units, including the 64th headquarters unit itself, in July and August.

“The retreat is going to help establish quality time together and assist in the reintegration phase,” said Medley.

It also teaches conflict management, he said.

The enrichment retreat is a two day outing open to 30 military couples, beginning on Thursday and lasting through Friday.  The outings in September are scheduled for 14th -15th, 21st – 22nd, and 28th – 29th.

Being that this a 13th SC (E) led event, couples from the SC (E) have preference, Medley said.

“All meals are paid for and all events are free,” said the chaplain.

During the retreat couples have the opportunity to participate in a scavenger hunt (building teamwork for individual couples), write ode love poems, find a “perfect” leaf, learn massage techniques from a masseuse and lastly, learn cheap dating 101, a compilation of dates under a dollar, the list was put together by two college students.

“We find out that couples don’t know what’s around them,” Medley said.

Couples don’t know about BLORA, the State Parks (that include caves, rivers, fishing, camping, swimming), historic towns that celebrate native heritage from German to Native American, artistic events ranging from concerts to galleries, the beach and much more, said Medley.

“The Fort Hood ITR office can give you a complete list of events to help out break out of the rut that ‘there is nothing to do,’ can create in a marriage,” he said.

Couples attend together at one of two retreat locations, Salado’s Stagecoach Inn or Belton’s Summersmill Retreat Center.

Medley said attendance earns a two-day pass but couples must RSVP in advance.

For more information on marriage enrichment training or the enrichment retreat, contact Chaplain (Cpt.) Tom Medley at 254–287–1391 or 903–227-2686