ORLANDO, Fla. - Families of 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, primarily of soldiers who returned from a recent deployment to Afghanistan, enjoyed a Strong Bonds marriage retreat weekend in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 21-23.
“It’s a great opportunity to get all the couples away from Fort Stewart, (Ga.) and all the busyness to provide them with some quality training to enhance and strengthen their marriages,” said Maj. David Trogdon, chaplain of 4th IBCT.
The Vanguard Brigade hosted 130 families on the marriage retreat at an Orlando resort hotel. Those who attended the marriage retreat stayed at the hotel for two nights and were provided child care on the day of training which included classes on communication, finances, parenting and dealing with the results of combat stress.
“I’m excited for these couples to be able to get away from the children and sit together as a couple, talk, discuss and be around other army couples who understand and learn from them as well,” Trogdon said.
Lynda Melby, the wife of Sgt. Bryan Melby, a senior air defense non-commissioned officer with 4th IBCT, said that after her husband was deployed for nine months, and having a 2-year-old in the house, “it was nice to have a way to get away, reconnect as a couple and enjoy some alone time.”
“Our families sacrifice so much,” Trogdon said. “Deployment creates a lot of stress in our Soldier’s lives and definitely in our families’ lives.”
Trogdon said he has had many soldiers who attended past events tell him later how much it improved their marriages.
In a Fort Campbell, Ky., study published by PubMed Central, Army couples who attended Strong Bonds events were three times more likely to stay together than those who did not. Trogdon said that goal is imperative to the Army’s mission.
“You can’t separate how the Family is doing at home from how the soldier is doing at work,” Trogdon said. “We can’t focus on being the soldiers that we need to be, if we’re not taking care of our families.”
Some couples attended the retreat to improve their relationship, while others sought to just spend time together.
“Every day we need to work on our marriages and this is a great opportunity to do that,” Trogdon said. “Marriages growing and becoming stronger, that’s a great blessing.”