The toll of invisible war wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is felt not only by servicemembers, but by the spouses and other family members working hard to support and understand them.
Many servicemembers struggling with PTSD feel they cannot share their thoughts, memories and emotions with their spouse and marriages can suffer under the stress of deployment, combat exposure and the struggles that often follow. But, difficult as it seems, open and honest communication is key to repairing and strengthening family relationships.
With this reality in mind, the USO has partnered with the Stronger Families organization to present a series of marriage counseling seminars free of charge to wounded warriors and their families. Called the Oxygen For Your Relationships Program, the seminar teaches couples how to improve their communication, better understand each other’s needs, resolve conflict, rekindle romance and find renewed hope.
In addition to the one-time, in-person training, the program provides ongoing training and resources through community support groups and an online support network.
The in-person training includes three main parts:
- Relationship Assessment: Couples assess their relationship and identify issues that are threatening their marriage, as well as problem areas that need to be addressed.
- Intensive Training Session: Couples attend a seven-hour training session that focuses on important marriage success factors, and leave the training with an action plan.
- Support Network: Couples are directed to ongoing support through a small group, mentoring or even counseling. Couples also have access to a virtual resource center that includes on-demand training videos, articles on marriage and family life and audio and live-streaming videos of marriage and family experts.
After two successful seminars in 2011, the USO and Stronger Families have expanded their partnership this year. Upcoming seminar dates and locations include:
- July 31, San Diego, CA
- August 29-30, Wounded Warrior Regiment 29 Palms
- October 10-11, Ft. Riley, KS
- November 6-7, Camp Lejeune, NC