Hilton Head Island, SC – The 3rd Infantry Division held a retreat for spouses of its deployed soldiers in Hilton Head, South Carolina from Dec. 1-3, 2023. This initiative was a collaborative effort between the Fort Stewart Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) and the 3rd ID with a goal to foster spiritual support and community solidarity.
Funded by a grant from the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, this retreat served 97 spouses and children of servicemembers deployed around the globe.
Gwen Scott, spouse to 3rd ID chaplain Lt. Col. John Scott and a key speaker, provided profound insights into the unique dynamics of military life.
“Army life in general, deployments specifically. It’s exhausting, it can be so lonely, ” said Scott. “This is hard – but hear me out – it can also be so so good.”
Her words resonated with the spouses, encapsulating the nuanced challenges and potential joys of life in a military family.
This training was part of a larger concerted effort at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield to care for people. Leadership across the division has emphasized the importance of having protective factors to readiness and reduces harmful behaviors. For some, spiritual connectedness can play an integral role of spiritual and emotional well-being in maintaining overall unit health.
One aspect of the retreat was the collection and analysis of survey data, aimed at refining and enhancing future religious support activities. Feedback from the survey highlighted a challenge for military families during deployments: the absence of robust support networks.
Additionally, it revealed a preference for support from individuals in similar situations over sympathy from those outside the military community, highlighting the need for peer-led support systems.
The retreat’s activities, which included training, worship sessions, and interactive Q&A discussions, were carefully designed to bolster a sense of community among participants. The positive feedback from the attendees was a testament to the event’s success in not just connecting individuals with each other, but also in linking them with vital religious and community resources.
This training event stands as a model for the positive outcomes of collaboration between military units and on post religious communities. It not only offered critical support to families during a challenging period but also contributed to the resilience and strength of the broader military community.
As the 3rd ID continues to explore holistic approaches to support its members and their families, events like this retreat illuminate the path forward, demonstrating the profound impact of combined efforts in spirituality and community engagement on the well-being of military families.
This work, Commentary: deployed Soldiers’ Families stay connected through retreat, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.