Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- Marines and Sailors face stressful problems daily. Regardless of age, background or status these problems can wear a service member down. Two organization aboard the Combat Center exist to combat this stress before it becomes too much of a problem.
The Chaplains Religious Enrichment Development Operation and the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program help Marines and Sailors from being overcome with spiritual, personal and/or marital problems.
CREDO organizes free retreats for military personnel and their spouses to such verdant mountain locales as Palomar Christian Conference Center, Luther Village and Rancho San Juan Capistrano.
“A lot of times, people get caught up with day-to-day activities,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jennifer Herman, religious program specialist with CREDO. “You need a few days to stop and unwind.”
CREDO offers spiritual, personal and marital retreats – each designed to help a service member find a reprieve from the daily grind.
“Our most popular retreat is the marriage enrichment retreat, which primarily deals with communication,” said Herman. “It is really geared toward the couple who doesn’t have a lot of big problems, but just needs a timeout to see where they’re at, where they’re going, and maybe to do things a bit better.”
PREP also helps married and engaged couples by reinforcing their marriage with communication and listening skills.
“This program is for couples who already have a healthy marriage or relationship and we just keep building on it,” said Lt. j.g. Karen Rector, protestant chaplain with religious ministries and coordinator for PREP.
“It is to open up avenues of better communication whe-ther they are married or engaged,” said Rector. “We help them put tools in their toolbox for a healthier, stronger and more communicative marriage.”
According to a report by the Census Bureau in 2002, 50 percent of marriages in the United States will end in divorce. Rector claims building necessary relationship skills will prevent couples from perpetuating that statistic.
“A big reason couples divorce is they have no communication,” said Rector. “The program is designed to help couples break out of bad cycles of non-communication. We also help them focus on their sensuality, their sexuality and their friendship as a couple.”
Rector emphasizes that enjoying the marriage and having fun will help ease the way for dealing with marital problems.
“If you can have fun, I think it comes easier to open up those avenues of communication,” said Rector. “When the problems come, and they will, it’s a part of life and it’s a part of marriage, …their odds of facing those problems and getting through them increase.”
Many people don’t participate in these programs because of misconceptions about counseling or lack of knowledge.
“Some people are really put off, because they think ‘Oh, were going to sit around and sing Kum-Bah-Yah,’” said Herman. “This really isn’t that.
“After the retreats, people are more rested,” said Herman. “They’ve had a decent night’s sleep. They’re more aware of their actions — how their actions impact other people and how others’ actions impact them. They look at things with a much clearer mind and really with a renewed sense of purpose.”
Rector faces the same problems about people getting the wrong idea about PREP.
“Somehow, [PREP] has received a negative connotation,” said Rector. “People think that it’s marriage counseling and it’s only for those with problems. It’s the opposite. PREP is for couples that already have a healthy relationship and want to make it better and find these communication skills so when problems arise, it’s not going to crumble their marriage. They’ll get through these problems together.”
For more information about CREDO and its retreats, contact Herman at 830-4989. For further information about PREP, call 830-6464.