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The Mountaineer Online

Retreat weekend strengthens marital bonds

Staff Sgt. James Persell (right), 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. Rgt., and Amy Persell try a method of communication that was taught in a class at the marriage retreat. Photo by Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
Staff Sgt. James Persell (right), 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. Rgt., and Amy Persell try a method of communication that was taught in a class at the marriage retreat. Photo by Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie

Staff. Sgt. Angela McKinzie

2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs NCOIC

Soldiers and family members of 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division (LI) spent the weekend at Lake Placid as part of a brigade-level predeployment marriage retreat program offered to all married troops during June.

“The marriage retreat gives families a chance to spend time together before the deployment,” said Chaplain (Capt.) John Lau, 2-14 Infantry chaplain. “Due to time and financial constraints, families really do not have a lot of time to spend together. We wanted them (the families) to have a relaxed time together and provide them with skill-based classes on communication and conflict management.”

Communication and conflict management were just two of the topics touched on during the retreat.
Chaplain (Maj.) Lonnie Locke, 2nd Brigade Combat Team chaplain, offered ideas to couples during the classes held the first evening.

“Men and women both bring different needs to the table,” Locke said. “We can handle our differences through different levels of communication.”

Preparation for separation was another class offered to families during the retreat. This class, led by Pastor Stanley Gilcash of the New Hope Christian Church in Watertown, focused on ways to deal with long separations.

Another class offered to families dealt with financial management. The class, led by Chaplain (Maj.) Randy Imhoff, gave families ideas on ways to use their money smartly.

During classes, family members participated in activities that helped them learned some of the skills they were taught. They also watched videos to aid in the discussion of topics.

“These classes will be very helpful with communication skills,” said Leslie Grass, family member. “These will help with the deployment. I can go back and try things I have learned here while my husband is deployed.”

While parents were attending classes, children were busy with their own activities. Activities included arts and crafts and movie time.

Free child care was provided by Ralph and Millie Gaylens, Sabrina and Randall Adkins and Peter and Jennifer Brown, all volunteers of 2-14 Infantry.
In addition to attending classes, family members got to stay for the entire weekend at the Crowne Plaza Resort and Golf Club in Lake Placid. Each family had their own room and received meal tickets to eat at the plaza.

“I thought if the families could get away and spend time together for at least two nights, it (would be) wonderful,” said Cristina Lussi, Crowne Plaza vice president. “We (at the Crowne Plaza) feel proud to have Soldiers and their families here.”

Lussi has a special tie to the 10th Mountain Division (LI). Her grandfather served as a medic with the division ski troops in World War II.

“It is kind of neat to have this tie passed along in my family,” Lussi said.
When classes were not in session, families could spend some quality time together. Some toured Lake Placid, played golf and even went kayaking.

“The marriage retreat is extremely valuable for high op tempo units such as the 10th Mountain Division (LI),” Lau said. “Anything we can do to support families and Soldiers will enhance the mission. It is important to help them (families) ease marital issues so they can better focus on the mission.”

While at the marriage retreat, couples also were afforded the chance for on-the-spot counseling if needed.
“It is always nice to do these things away from the unit,” Lau said. “The retreat provides the opportunity for counseling. It is nice to talk with the families in this type of setting.”

Another series of marriage retreats will be scheduled for families upon 2nd BCT’s return from Iraq next year.

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