Marriages enriched in Iraq

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By Sgt. Scott Raper, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs

Spc. Trent Ellegood and his wife, Staff Sgt. Jennifer Ellegood listen to the division chaplain during instruction aimed at improving marriages at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq Sept. 30. Married Soldiers of the 149th Brigade Support Battalion took advantage of an opportunity to attend an enrichment program sponsored by the chaplains of the 149th BSB. (photo by Sgt. Scott Raper, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs)

BAGHDAD, Iraq – It is not everyday that couples renew their wedding vows.  It is even more rare for couples to have that opportunity while deployed together overseas.  Soldiers of the 149th Brigade Support Battalion had just that chance recently while serving in Baghdad.

In a unique situation with a combat zone as a backdrop, married couples within the 149th BSB put aside their duties as Soldiers and were reminded of their commitments as husband and wife.  For one day, the Chaplains of Task Force Legion organized a function for the couples to get back to the basics of their marriage.

“When you are back home or in a garrison environment, it is easy to lose focus,” said Warrant Officer Joey Wilson.  “But when you are in a situation like this, in an austere environment, it makes you realize what’s really important.”

Wilson and his wife, Capt. Janee Wilson had previously participated in a marriage enrichment program back home and were interested to see how they had progressed as a couple since.  This time around they realized there is still more to learn about marriage.  And the first certainly did not give them the moment to stand together over-looking Al Faw Palace at Camp Victory to renew their wedding vows. Under the guidance of Lt. Col. Scott Hammond, Chaplain for the 25thInfantry Division, the ceremony took place as the sun set over Baghdad.  A vow renewal was certainly more than what the couples were expecting while on deployment.

Chief Warrant Officer Joey Wilson and his wife, Capt. Janee Wilson pray together during a vow renewal ceremony at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq Sept. 30. The couple was among several Soldiers of the 149th Brigade Support Battalion who attended a marriage enrichment program organized by the chaplains of the 149th BSB.

“This has allowed us to see more of one another since we’ve been here,” said Janee.  “And actually feel more connected as husband and wife, as opposed to just two Soldiers.”

Throughout the day, Hammond led the couples in classroom instruction on topics aimed to improve marriage relationships.  Four couples participated in the day’s events and a rare chance to “relax” and get away from the everyday tasks that make up the life of a deployed Soldier.  They spent the day learning about their partnership and enjoying each other’s company.  Chaplains even went as far as to arrange a dinner and a movie, with the help of Soldiers at the Joint Visitor’s Bureau on Camp Victory.  It will be remembered as one of the last events the JVB would hold as it closes its doors as part of the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq.  All agreed the evening was a success.  The chaplains said that the event was another example of how the military ministry is and always will be there for Soldiers at home and overseas.

“We are here to help build relationships,” said Maj. Gaylan Springer, Chaplain for the 149th MEB.  “Its one of the biggest issues we deal with as chaplains.  And we were able to do some training with them to build their marriage while they are away. A deployment can be really tough on marriages and I think today was just a blessing for them,” he said.

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