CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - The Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade kicked off a weekly marriage enrichment class here Nov. 3.

The class, aimed at Soldiers that are either married or planning to get married, is led by Chaplain (Capt.) Brent Crosswhite, the battalion's chaplain.

His wife Sarah is scheduled to lead a similar bi-weekly class for spouses at Fort Hood, Texas, the unit's home station. Both classes will cover the same material over a six-week period, Crosswhite, a Blanchard, Okla., native, said.

According to Crosswhite, the average brigade-sized unit, which consists of nearly 5,000 Soldiers, has between 20 and 30 divorces during the course of a deployment.

"I wanted to see if we could stop that at the battalion level," he said.

It's not the actual deployments that can break a marriage, but people.

Deployment won't make a make a bad marriage better, just as it won't harm a strong marriage, Crosswhite said.

"I want to work on our people skills," he said to the group. "Work on our marriages as a whole; strengthen them and strengthen our coping skills."

In addition to the statistics, Crosswhite noticed that 80 percent of counseling he does is related to marriage, but the class isn't just about marriage.

"I want to help people have healthy relationships," Crosswhite said.

He explained that by having healthy relationships, Soldiers will be able to keep their focus on the mission, without worrying about distractions at home.

Crosswhite plans to run the class in six-week sessions, featuring a video-teleconference with the spouses' class in Texas at the end of each session.

He encouraged each Soldier in the class to get something out of it.

"Have a goal to accomplish [in your relationship] during the deployment," Crosswhite said.

One Soldier, Spc. Tom Lauderdale, a fueler with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, looks forward to gaining from the class.

Lauderdale, a Bay Town, Texas, native, is on his first deployment since getting married in Jan.

He hopes to improve long-distance communication skills with his wife over the course of the deployment.

Following the deployment, the participants will be able to take part in a marriage retreat, Crosswhite said.

The class meets every Tuesday during lunch at the STB headquarters.

Page last updated Mon November 9th, 2009 at 14:22