Stronger Families Aims to Solidify Marital Bonds at USO Caregivers Conference
Monday, March 19, 2012
Stronger Families, an organization with the mission to "Fuel a grassroots movement to change the culture around marriage, so that more kids grow up with their mom and dad," will be presenting at the 2012 USO Caregivers Conference in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, this May. It will be Stronger Families first appearance at a USO Caregivers Conference.
Executive Director Noel Meador (pictured left) took some time to talk about what his organization's goals for this year's conference will be and what attendees can expect.
Q: Talk a little about your connection to the USO and how Stronger Families began an association with us for the Caregivers Conference.
Meador: The connection with the USO started with an introduction from MAJ Gen. (Retired) Ken Farmer who knew [Vice President USO Warrior and Family Care] Susan Thomas. Ken felt that our Oxygen program could help meet the real life needs of wounded, ill or injured soldiers and their families.
Q: Discuss a little how you feel your mission dovetails with the USO's mission of lifting the spirits of troops and their families.
Meador: Our mission dovetails with the USO in so many ways. For over three years we have been working with military couples to provide them the training and support for their relationships. The greatest asset our military has to sustain the past decade of war and the future battle is a strong family. This starts by offering hope and help to couples who are struggling in their relationship. This is what Stronger Families has developed through its Oxygen For Your Relationships program.
Q: For the Caregivers Conference, what are some of the most prevalent issues that service members and their families deal with as they return home from deployment or in some cases redeployment?
Meador: The most prevalent issues we continue to deal with is the fatigue of the soldier and their family from serving on multiple deployments. Marriage failure in our military is truly the "untold casualty of war." This manifests itself in the inability to communicate with their spouse, resolve conflict and understand the process of healing from past traumatic experiences. Many of the military couples we work with have issues with re-adjusting to the new normal that 10-15 months of deployment can create. The problems compound while they are apart and instead of dealing with them when they come up, they often will stuff them away for a later time. Many of the couples are carrying around years of issues that have never been resolved in their relationship. Unfortunately, for some the answer to this issues is divorce or separation for others they choose to live miserably married, but faithfully enduring. The ripple effect to this problem is felt not just with the couple, but extends to the kids in the family.
Q: What are some of the practices and techniques that you recommend couples and families use to work out the issues you mention?
Meador: The techniques we use in our program with a three-fold approach:
Relationship Assessments: Couples take two assessments that identify the growth and strengthen areas of their relationship. Assessments cover communication, conflict resolution, family closeness, stress and anger, finances, and couple satisfaction.
Intensive Training Session: Next, they attend an eight-hour training seminar that focuses on the most important factors needed for a marriage to succeed. Couples leave the seminar with an action plan for continued growth and support for their relationships.
Support Network: Following the training and assessment, couples are directed to ongoing support through a small group, mentoring, or even counseling. Couples are also provided with the very best resources and experts this nation has to offer related to marriage, family life, and parenting through a state-of-the-art virtual resource center.
Q: How are your concepts presented to troops and their families in conference settings like these?
Meador: We use humor, inspiration and practical tools to present the concepts at conferences like the USO Caregivers Conference.
* For a sample presentation, visit Noel Meador's bio page on StrongerFamilies.org.
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