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NEWS | March 14, 2012

Enrichment retreats – good for the soul

By Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Hudson Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Through the Chaplain's Religious Enrichment Development Operation program military members and their families from Joint Base Charleston are offered free enrichment retreats that can help them meet the unique challenges of everyday life and today's military lifestyle.

Each year CREDO hosts numerous retreats. The next scheduled retreat will be held at Camp Kinard in Batesburg-Leesville, S.C., April 13 to 15. The marriage enrichment retreat is offered to all active duty, reservists and retirees at JB Charleston as well as Department of Defense employees regardless of religious beliefs or practices.

"Marriage and parenting is not something in our life that comes with an owner's manual so we learn a lot of things the hard way. There is no guarantee that we are going to be the best at it or gain wisdom off of our own experiences. These retreats allow people from the outside a look into a relationship and help by pointing out certain things a couple may or may not be doing that could be really harmful or poisonous for a marriage," he said.

The 48-hour marriage enrichment retreats are held during a weekend. Couples who are seeking greater satisfaction in their relationships are provided time to relax, reconnect and enjoy moments alone with no interruptions that occur in daily life. Workshops offered at the retreats provide insight on ways couples can connect emotionally, physically and spiritually.

"You can't look at a marriage and judge their happiness or healthiness based on the number of years a couple has been married. You could be married for 25 years but that doesn't necessarily mean it is a healthy marriage," said Quay. "These retreats are designed to enhance and support the ability of a couple to get away from every day distractions in order to improve their marriage. There are activities designed to increase a couple's ability to understand one another better and communicate on a more intimate level.

The marriage retreat offers a safe environment to help couples work on building better communication skills, trust and strengthen ties within their relationship.

"Married couples have certain expectations of their spouse and if those expectations are not met, the relationship can start to fall apart," he continued. "In order to have a healthy relationship you have to have good communication skills. That is the key element in making things work. If these expectations are not communicated, a person may bottle up their feelings which can make them resentful and that can cause additional problems down the road."

According to Navy Chaplain Lt. Cmdr. Rob Heckathorne, a 628 ABW chaplain assigned to All Saint's Chapel at JB Charleston - WS, although CREDO is a great program, it is one of the most underutilized programs available.

"I encourage all service members -- Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines, whether it is for your own personal growth, strengthening your relationship or building camaraderie within a workplace, to take advantage of this program while it's out there," he said.

Introduced in 1971 by the Chief of Naval Operations through the Navy Chief of Chaplains, CREDO was originally intended to be an experiment focused on eliminating drug use within the military ranks and was known as the 'Chaplain's Response to the Emerging Drug Order.' As the program grew it evolved to what it's known for today; fostering spiritual growth and building relationships throughout the military ranks and improving job performances and to enhancing quality of life aspects.

"The one thing people can expect to learn from these retreats is to be able to learn to look at themselves and be able to take what they've learned and change, grow and evolve into what they want to become as a person," said Quay.

"The military lifestyle can - and does - take a toll on even the best of marriages. Through CREDO, couples are offered a way to reconnect through the free retreats," said Cmdr. Charles Phillip, Naval Support Activity executive officer at JB Charleston - WS. "There are too many marriages ending badly these days and with deployments, individual augmentees and other work related issues it can be especially hard on military spouses. Having a healthy relationship is important. If a service member is having a bad time at home, when he or she comes to work it reflects in their work habits and performance. We need our service members to be mission ready and having a good quality of life plays a big part of that."

For additional information on CREDO retreats or to sign up visit website: http://www.cnic.navy.mil/cnrse/RegionOperationsandServices/ServicesandResources/ReligiousPrograms/CREDO/MarriageGrowth/index.htm