Strengthen military marriages

ALASKA – As the world marked the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks earlier this month, Samaritan’s Purse continues to strengthen the marriages of injured military veterans and spouses who have sacrificed so much to defend the freedoms we enjoy.

The September 11 attacks are what drove many people into armed service, which included combat deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world as part of the war on terrorism. Countless veterans have returned from battle with visible and invisible wounds, and these war wounds have affected many marriages and families.

Since 2012, Samaritan’s Purse has welcomed more than 1,500 military couples into its Operation Heal Our Patriots family. Through the project, they bring wounded veterans and their spouses to Alaska for a week of chaplain-led, Bible-based marriage enrichment training and once-in-a-lifetime adventures alongside other military couples.

After Alaska, couples have access to their Lifetime Family Care Ministry which includes an annual meeting, local training and fellowship events, ongoing access to regional chaplains, and ongoing connection with Key Leader couples and alumni. Alaskan students. Couples also have the opportunity to participate in disaster relief deployments through their Team Patriot program.

Margaret BartlebaughSamaritan’s Purse:

Operation Heal Our Patriots is a Samaritan’s Purse ministry that helps injured veterans and their spouses. We help them enrich their marriage and we partner with them for life. Veterans come here to Alaska for a week to experience God’s glorious creation, and they can really focus on the relationship with their spouse.

Franklin GrahamPresident and CEO, Samaritan’s Purse:

One of the greatest debts we owe as a nation is to our military families. We’re grateful for them, and we just feel like it’s a small way to help them, serve them, and say thank you. The military couples we are bringing, of course, have been injured. These wounds take years, if not a lifetime, to heal.

Ed ArentzSamaritan’s Purse:

They are taken on excursions where we fish or hike. They have retired military chaplains here who advise them and teach marriage.

Carlina and Mark SmithSergeant, US Army; Sergeant, US Army:

I say the real blessing in all of this, besides seeing God’s creation, is really the gems that we get in the workshops. Being counseled by veterans and being around other veteran couples, there’s a level of understanding here.

Yeah. Being able to take time off just to focus on us was something that, you know, was life changing.

Jamie and Jesse SchroederMaster Sergeant, USAF, retired:

I’m a retired air force master sergeant. I went to Iraq, I came back a monster. I messed up my back and sanity took a turn. I started dealing with this on my own, as I think most men would, by trying to figure out the problem and fix it on my own by drinking plenty.

When he got home, he walked on eggshells a lot, trying to figure out, how to talk to her and actually get through?

I broke down, then found myself in the back of a police car, handcuffed and in the psychiatric ward.

It’s hard to find someone, like a counselor or doctor, who you can trust and who understands you. For some reason when I walked in the first day it just clicked.

Jamie:

It’s amazing to sit next to other spouses and know that they won’t judge you for continuing to fight for your marriage, even though sometimes you feel like there’s no way to win.

Jesse:

I started believing and believing that there is God and Jesus and that he will save me. I want to make this change, and there’s no better place than here.

We are privileged this morning to see how God has worked in the lives of these five couples as they come to renew their marriage vows before God and before you. Jesus said, “I have spoken these things to you that in me you may have peace. In this world you will be in trouble, but rest assured, I have overcome the world.

Jesse:

This is where it will start. It’s the right time and the right place, leaving all the hate and anger that I’ve been carrying for at least 16 years.

Let go of the burden, it no longer belongs to you. Feel the relief.


Samaritan’s Purse is a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization that provides spiritual and physical relief to suffering people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet the needs of people affected by war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine in an effort to share God’s love through His Son, Jesus- Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Operation Heal Our Patriots gives wounded veterans and their spouses the opportunity to refresh themselves spiritually, renew themselves physically, and enrich their marriages. Couples participate in Bible-based seminars that help strengthen their relationships with God and others and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation with outdoor activities at our wilderness lodge in Alaska. We continue to support these men and women after their initial stay, keeping their spiritual needs and marriages a priority.

CONTACT: Melissa Nystrom, [email protected]


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Barry F. Howard