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    Defending the domestic front

    Defending the domestic front

    Photo By Sgt. Scott Tant | U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Fred White, Company B, Task Force Brawler, 3rd...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Scott Tant 

    Combined Joint Task Force 101

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan – In an attempt to quell the rising divorce rate affecting soldiers, the ministry team for Task Force Brawler, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Falcon, at Forward Operating Base Shank, began providing proactive marital counseling in the form of a marriage workshop. The goal of the workshop is to prepare the soldiers of TF Brawler for the challenges and trials that lay ahead after returning from a year-long deployment.

    Led by TF Brawler U.S. Army Chaplain (Capt.) Abraham Sarmiento of Cleveland, Tenn., and his assistant U.S. Army Spc. Armando Abad of San Bernardino, Calif., the marriage workshop invited soldiers to learn more effective ways to deal with situations that threaten the stability of a marriage, such as multiple deployments and the readjustment period following a deployment.

    “Most couples wait until their relationship is stressed before addressing these issues,” said Sarmiento. “Proactive, intentional preparation is much less costly and so much more effective.”

    The marriage workshop began July 19, and was open to not only TF Brawler soldiers, but to other soldiers and civilian contractors on FOB Shank. A total of 45 participants regularly attended the Monday night meetings, which were held in the Brawler Chapel.

    Though the workshop was geared toward deployed soldiers and their non-deployed spouses, there are five married couples co-deployed with TF Brawler, and all five attended the class.

    “It is beneficial being deployed with your spouse because we have a support system … one another,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Kishara Harris, E Co., TF Brawler, from Waterberry, Conn., who is co-deployed with her husband, U.S. Army Spc. Steven Harris also with D Co. “Though even at that, we still face challenges. We left our daughter behind with family, and it is hard when at least one of us is not there for her.”

    The core material taught at the workshop is based off the book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by Dr. John Gottman. Holding a doctorate in psychology, Gottman’s book lays a practical guide for couples to follow toward building a successful and lasting relationship.

    “The marriage workshop offers the opportunity for the participants to remain connected emotionally, even when they are physically separated,” said Abad. “It offers tools and guidance to continue strengthening the foundation of the marriage and also to protect it from anything that can affect it.”

    The seven principles within the book are centered around positive interaction between a couple, open communication when problems arise, and understanding the personalities and desires of both partners in a relationship.

    The marriage workshop expounds upon these principles by actively involving the participants in practical exercises and scenarios. The parameters of the scenarios are taken from the book, while members of the workshop act out each role. Sarmiento leads the class in a group discussion afterwards on how the exercise went and what could be done to improve the outcome.

    According to Sarmiento, a study shows that at least 10 percent of married couples within the Army will be divorced soon after redeploying. Sarmiento aims to make that number much lower for TF Brawler.

    “Every relationship experiences conflict and periods of alienation, but the difference between the masters and disasters is their ability to repair,” said Sarmiento.

    “I learned from the class that what helps a marriage are things called repair tips,” said U.S. Army Spc. James McDaniel, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, TF Brawler, from Detroit. “Spouses are going to argue. But instead of just shutting down, or just arguing about nothing, we learned it is better to take a moment, calm down, then deal with the problem.”

    The six-week course concluded with a graduation ceremony Aug. 30 for all the participants. Testimonials were given by some of the workshop attendees, and names were drawn for gift certificates donated by restaurants in Savannah, Ga. Along with a certificate of completion, Sarmiento gave marriage workshop graduates words to remember.

    “It is our desire that you and your spouse work together because it will help in strengthening your relationship,” said Sarmiento. “I encourage you to be consistent and dedicated in learning these principles and to be effective as you take a practical approach to enhancing your relationship.”



    Date Taken: 09.02.2010
    Date Posted: 09.02.2010 22:46
    Story ID: 55632

    Web Views: 326
    Downloads: 6