REDMOND, Wash. – The sound of laughter filled the air as many facial expressions changed from interested and intrigued to surprised and amused. The faint sound of children playing could be heard in the background providing for a look of relief on their parent’s faces.
Families of deployed soldiers from Joint Base Lewis McChord participated in a Strong Bonds family retreat Jan. 27-29, held at the Redmond Marriott Town Center here. The retreat was held to bring the spouses together in a comfortable and fun environment in order to discuss the differences between the way men and women both think and respond and to take a break from their kids.
“This retreat was geared towards giving the spouses some time away from their kids with other adults,” said Capt. Terry Cobban, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion’s chaplain. “We provide the child care so they can get out and enjoy themselves for a little while and so they can get some training to prepare for their spouses return.”
The rooms, meals, child care and classes were all free for the spouses who participated. The classes were taught by the chaplain but were more focused on discussions between spouses. Many spouses shared their personal experiences about some of the different techniques that were discussed and were able to make it relatable to the others.
“I loved this experience,” said Aleena Johnson, a military spouse. “I was able to hang out with other spouses from my husband’s company and I learned ways to integrate my husband back into our family using terms he can relate to. It was a lot of fun talking and laughing with the other women.”
After the classes were over for the day, spouses were able to take advantage of the free child care provided if they wanted to do something without their kids. Some went shopping, others went to the movie theatre and a few just relaxed in their room for a while.
“I think this went very well,” said Debra Vernon, a military spouse. “These retreats are great for the spouses of the deployed soldiers. The spouses will be able to share this information with their partners and be able to communicate better, and I think having another retreat after the soldiers return would be a big help with their reintegration.”
Everyone seemed to be a little more relaxed and cheerful on the last morning as they prepared to go home. Hugs and phone numbers were exchanged as some spouses told each other that they can’t wait until the next retreat.
If you would like to know about upcoming retreats contact your unit’s chaplain or family readiness group.