Adventures in marriage: strengthening marriages and families of 1 SOW Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hussein Enaya
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Being away from family is an inherent part of military service, and the enduring strain it places on marriages and families highlights the undeniable importance of programs aimed at fortifying these relationships.

A notable example is Adventures in Marriage, a program specifically tailored to empower Airmen assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command with the necessary tools and resources to cultivate and maintain strong, resilient marriages and families.

The program has received high praise from both participants and senior military leaders, who recognize the positive impact that healthy relationships can have on both personal well-being and job performance.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Joshua Stoley, 1st Special Operations Wing chaplain, explained that the program is free for all members and provides a wide range of services including accommodation, meals, childcare and quality time to spend with each other.

"This program is by far the absolute best I've ever seen," said Stoley.

Stoley also mentioned that other programs he has seen might only offer a weekend away and require couples to make their own arrangements for childcare.

“Offering the chance for families to come here with their kids and us providing childcare is a huge benefit, “said Stoley.

Demi Moorer, a military spouse at Hurlburt Field, said the amenities, including childcare, made the program more accessible for her and her husband.

“They really heard me out, because this was my first time being away from my son,” Moorer said. “They really were reassuring and very helpful, and they also sent me pictures of my son.”

Her husband, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tony Moorer, a flight chief with the 1st Special Operations Air Operations Squadron, added that the program provides resources, skills, and support for marriages that he can utilize to improve his relationship with his wife.

 “I believe we will both start communicating better today,” Moorer said. “My favorite activity was knowing that there are other factors that I have not known that could be hindering my marriage that I can work on, which makes it even better for me and my wife.”

The Adventures in Marriage program is funded by Air Force Special Operations Command, and participants must be stationed at Hurlburt Field and contribute to the AFSOC mission set.

 “The program helps to bring clarity to relationships and builds connections within families,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Robert Niter, 1st Special Operations Medical Readiness Squadron senior enlisted leader, who participated in the program with his wife and children.

It is organized in partnership with Live the Life, a company that specializes in marriage counseling with over 26 years of experience.

Richard Albertson, founding president of Live the Life, has seen first-hand how his program has helped Airmen.

He recalled a time when an Airman who was attending a previous marriage retreat was dealing with a potential divorce and had been contemplating suicide.

However, during the retreat, Albertson said the couple experienced a transformative weekend, and learned how to bond, connect and overcome their struggles. Months later, they approached a chaplain, expressing their gratitude, and shared that the retreat not only saved their marriage, but also saved their lives.

“If you can help people feel less lonely, that's significant,” said Albertson. “People may walk through those doors feeling lonely, and then they walk out feeling changed.”

The program has become increasingly popular, with 11 retreats held each year. The retreat is advertised through the base’s spiritual peer network coordinator, Wendy Mills, who works at the Hurlburt Field Chapel and manages the program.

Members can sign up through a provided link, and priority is given to those with referrals from first sergeants, frontline supervisors and commanders.

When Airmen participate in the Adventures in Marriage retreat, it is considered an alternate duty location, and members will not be charged leave.

The program also provides confidential counseling including individual, marriage and family counseling.

Members who are uncomfortable meeting with a chaplain can also access services from military family life consultants, peer network providers, social workers, operational psychologists and family advocacy.

Overall, Stoley added that the Adventures in Marriage program is an excellent resource for military families, providing them with the tools and skills they need to strengthen their marriages and families.

"The goal is to strengthen marriages in particular, and families by extension and we have to give them very specific, very practical skills to help strengthen their families so that we're more resilient in dealing with all the things that come out," Stoley said.