base information

Base marriage retreat can help strengthen family ties

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Life is busy. We work on our cars, computers and homes, but how often do we take time to work on our relationships - especially to prepare couples for an extended separation?

The Mountain Home Air Force Base Chapel team is currently sponsoring a marriage retreat to the Ashley Inn in Cascade, Idaho, from Aug 28 to 30. The weekend will focus on giving families a chance to spend time together before a deployment with three class sessions focusing on how to strengthen communication and what to expect before, during and after a deployment.

While the chapel began the project, the entire Integrated Delivery System -- comprised of base agencies committed to helping active duty military members and their families, retirees and department of defense civilians - will provide support. These agencies include, but aren't limited to, the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, family advocacy, health and wellness center and chapel.

The retreat is open to airman basic to senior airman and lieutenant through major married couples and families who are deploying or returning from a deployment (the chapel will open this to higher enlisted ranks if the spaces are not filled, giving consideration to the lower enlisted ranks first). The cost to go on the retreat is $50 and is limited to 40 couples.

"Through the 2008 Community Assessment Survey, we found that airmen basic through senior airmen have the toughest time dealing with a deployment as a couple, so they were given a chance to sign up before it was offered to others," said Staff Sgt. Norma Johnson, 366th Fighter Wing chapel assistant.

Class sessions will focus on creating stronger relationships and preparing couples for a healthy separation and homecoming.

At last year's retreat, the local community provided a lot of support and activities, including a movie viewing with free concessions, a beach party with discounted pricing on watercraft, discounts on golf and lunch on Sunday.

During the retreat, couples could focus on their relationships and families without the stressors of work and home life.

"I have two favorite parts of the retreat," said Erica Bunch, wife of Master Sgt. Ron Bunch, and one of last year's attendees. "One was watching my husband and children make memories that they can use to help them through the seven months that we will be apart. The second is the useful information we received in the classes. I learned that I have more support out there than I knew of."