News: New unit program helps Soldiers ‘Flatten the Wave’
Story by Sgt. Shantelle Campbell
TIKRIT, Iraq – After recognizing an alarming increase in divorce rates among military personnel in 2004, the Army set out to reverse the trend by spending $2 million on a variety of marriage programs.
Most of these programs focus on providing Soldiers and their spouses with tools that would help them endure and stay together during stressful times such as deployments. However, there were hardly any programs that specifically focused on helping Soldiers and their spouses cope after the relationship had fallen apart.
Noticing a need for such a program, Maj. Terry Romine of Hoxie, Ark., and a Family Life chaplain for the 3rd Infantry Division, out of Fort Stewart, Ga., took his division chaplain’s concept and created the “Flatten the Wave” program.
Flatten the Wave is a unit program designed to provide Soldiers, who are facing a potential divorce or break-up, with information to assist in “flattening the relational wave when they hit the beach for redeployment and reintegration.”
According to Romine, there is an unfortunate pattern of relationship issues after re-deployment that result in marital break-ups, divorce, domestic violence and even suicide.
“Though we don’t think we can prevent all of that, maybe we can mitigate some of the consequences and help people overcome those difficulties” with the Flatten the Wave program, said Romine.
Still a relatively new program, Flatten the Wave has already received high reviews from chaplains throughout the division and from Sgt. 1st Class Andra Jones, the Personal Security Detachment platoon sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th IBCT.
Jones’ Soldiers were the first to go through the two-hour program.
“The Flatten the Wave program is a good program, especially for young Soldiers,” said the Atlanta, Ga., native. “It opened their eyes to a lot of stuff that they didn’t know about as far as consequences of their actions.”
An area of the program that caught the attention of most of the Soldiers was the portion on the financial consequences of a break-up or divorce.
Jones said that he saw many of his Soldiers “sit straight up in their chairs” as the legal officer spoke about all that needs to be considered when a couple decides to go their separate ways.
In addition to making Soldiers aware of the legal and financial consequences of a divorce or break-up, the program also gave Soldiers tools to strengthen their communication and listening skills when in disagreement with their spouse or significant other.
“I believe [the program] taught Soldiers how to learn to work through their problems instead of [running away] at the first sign of trouble,” added Jones. “I believe it opened their eyes to a lot of things that they were unaware of [and helped them understand] that problems are always going to be there. There’s no perfect marriage. It’s all about working through it and learning how to work through it until they reconcile [their differences].”
According to Romine, the program was designed so it could be adapted to the needs of the unit, if the unit commanders decided to implement it into their reintegration training.
For more information about the Flatten the Wave program, please contact your unit chaplain.