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About Amy Umble: Amy Umble writes about religion and social issues affecting the Fredericksburg community.

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Strengthening military marriages

Marriage is hard–and marriage to someone deployed in the military is even more so. A workshop later this month hopes to help military couples navigate through the stress.

The Virginia Wounded Warrior Program for Health Planning Region I, in partnership with the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work, is presenting “Mission: Healthy Relationships” in Fredericksburg. This weekend relationship enrichment workshop for military veterans and their spouses will be held Aug. 26-28 at the Fredericksburg Hospitality House and Conference Center.

The couples retreat, led by VCU assistant professor Dr. Karen Smith Rotabi, will address the impact of deployment and military service on their relationship. The divorce rate for military members has increased from 2.6 percent in 2001 at the start of Operation Enduring Freedom to 3.6 percent in 2010. Retreats like “Mission: Healthy Relationships” work to strengthen family bonds and mitigate the stresses deployments place on marriages.

According to Camilla Schwoebel, Regional Coordinator Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, “Veterans return home from their engagements in the Middle East or elsewhere and they are forever changed. It is not easy to jump back into the regular household routine following a deployment when, as a combat veteran, you have been on high alert for the past 12-15 months. It can be just as difficult for the spouse, who has been shouldering all of the responsibilities at home. Each of the partners has changed and have to relearn how to work as a couple.” Additional retreats are being planned throughout the state.

A $40.00 registration fee per couple includes the cost of lodging for two nights and all meals except one. Assistance with reimbursement for childcare expenses is available.

Registered participants are to check-in beginning at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26. The workshop officially begins at 6:30 p.m. that evening. The workshop will conclude by 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28.

For more information and to register, contact Camilla Schwoebel, Regional Coordinator, at 540-373-3223, ext. 3085 or cschwoebel@racsb.state.va.us. To learn more about the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program in our area, click here.

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