“I wish you could have been present to see the…the tears, bonding and joy, the healing for so many.”
VA Chaplain Dick Millspaugh is talking about the Veterans and loved ones who attend relationship-bonding retreats.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is trying a new path to caring for and healing the nation’s wounded Veterans. Now, in addition to repairing their damaged bodies and minds, VA is going one step further and helping to repair their crumbling intimate relationships.
The retreats are conducted by VA chaplains, social workers, psychologists, and nurses. They are PAIRS-certified instructors, teaching better communication skills, relationship skills, and emotional literacy skills to couples. PAIRS stands for: Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills.
“Research shows that 70 percent of our combat Veterans are experiencing marital problems,” said VA Chaplain Ron Craddock. “Twenty percent of them decide to divorce before they even return from theatre. This is staggering. The toll on the individual Veteran is staggering. The toll on his family is staggering.”
“They taught us how to listen to each other,” say Michelle, wife of an Army Veteran. “When that happens, it brings you closer together. It feels really, really good.”
Chaplain Millspaugh has dozens of quotes like that.
The VA retreats, called “From Warrior to Soul Mate,” are based on a program created by the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation which, for over a quarter century, has provided educational programs that deliver practical skills to strengthen marriages and families.