• PAIRS: Because great relationships don't happen by accident.
  • PAIRS Essentials in Fort Lauderdale June 25-26, 2016.
  • PAIRS: Because great relationships don't happen by accident.
  • PAIRS: Because great relationships don't happen by accident.
  • PAIRS.
  • PAIRS: Because great relationships don't happen by accident.
  • PAIRS: Because great relationships don't happen by accident.

The Mission of PAIRS is to teach those attitudes, emotional understandings and behaviors that nurture and sustain healthy relationships and to make this knowledge broadly available on behalf of a safer, saner, more loving world.



Helping Veterans Strengthen Most Significant Relationships

Hans Petersen, VA staff writer


“I wish you could have been present to see the…the tears, bonding and joy, the healing for so many.”

VA Chaplain Dick Millspaugh is talking about the Veterans and loved ones who attend relationship-bonding seminars.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is trying a new path to caring for and healing the nation’s wounded Veterans. Now, in addition to repairing their damaged bodies and minds, VA is going one step further and helping to repair their crumbling intimate relationships.

The seminars are conducted by VA chaplains, social workers, psychologists, and nurses. They are PAIRS-certified instructors, teaching better communication skills, relationship skills, and emotional literacy skills to couples. PAIRS stands for: Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills.

“Research shows that 70 percent of our combat Veterans are experiencing marital problems,” said VA Chaplain Ron Craddock. “Twenty percent of them decide to divorce before they even return from theatre. This is staggering. The toll on the individual Veteran is staggering. The toll on his family is staggering.”

“They taught us how to listen to each other,” say Michelle, wife of an Army Veteran. “When that happens, it brings you closer together. It feels really, really good.”

Chaplain Millspaugh has dozens of quotes like that.

The VA seminars, called “From Warrior to Soul Mate,” are based on a program created by the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation which, for over a quarter century, has provided educational programs that deliver practical skills to strengthen marriages and families.

The seminars take place in a group setting, with instructors, often over a Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, or in several class sessions.

Instructors are skilled, perceptive, effective facilitators from various disciplines. They have been trained and certified.

“How can one measure the lives saved?”

The seminars of 30-60 people are conducted with an open invitation for participants to ask questions and offer contributions from their unique life experiences. After introductions, instructors outline ground rules for discussion, and then explore an understanding of how learning and relationships evolve. Soon participants are introduced to practical communication tools and invited to practice those skills with their partners.

An example of one of the sessions at a weekend seminars:

PAIRS Relationship Roadmap — The conversation begins with an exploration of the root causes of pain and pleasure, considering symptoms and signs of happiness and unhappiness and their connection to the deprivation or fulfillment of biologically-based needs, including the human need for bonding.

Here’s a complete overview of what happens at the seminars and a look at the syllabus.

The vision to move the “From Warrior to Soul Mate” initiative from a local effort to a VA nationwide program has been an outstanding success. Since 2011:

  • Nine “Train the Trainer” workshops have certified over 400 PAIRS facilitators at VA locations around the country.
  • Multiple enrichment seminars have been held at 26 different sites to the benefit of hundreds of couples.
  • Partnerships have been set up with the faith community, the American Red Cross, the Border Patrol and organizations serving Active Duty personnel.

Participants’ evaluations revealed that many Vets and their partners felt that “everyone in the military should be required to attend” such seminars, that the seminars helped with the problems of multiple deployments, PTSD, and other challenges of military service and transition.

“I would like to say thank you for PAIRS couples seminar. It helped my husband and I see that our relationship is still worth fighting for.”

In a lengthy report filled with important statistics, Chaplain Millspaugh reflected, “How can one measure the lives literally saved from suicide, the children not touched by divorce, the costs not incurred by stress borne illnesses or homelessness?”

From Warrior to Soul Mate has been a unique and important program to help so many of America’s Veterans strengthen the health of their families.

Ralph and Michelle Lynn

Ralph and Michelle Lynn’s marriage was floundering until, at Michelle’s urging, they attended a PAIRS VA marriage seminar three years ago at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia. Now things are different.


The Department of Veterans Affairs is trying a new path when it comes to caring for and healing the Nation’s wounded Veterans.Ralph and Michelle Lynn at PAIRS VA Marriage Retreat

Now, in addition to repairing their damaged bodies and minds, VA is attempting to go one step further and repair their crumbling marriages.

The Damage Done

“Research shows that 70 percent of our combat Veterans are experiencing marital problems,” said VA Chaplain Ron Craddock. “Twenty percent of them decide to divorce before they even return from theatre. This is staggering. The toll on the individual Veteran is staggering. The toll on his family is staggering.”

That’s why Craddock and another VA Chaplain, Ed Waldrop, launched VA’s very first marriage retreat three years ago at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga. The seminars are conducted by VA chaplains, social workers, psychologists, and counselors who have been certified as instructors for teaching better communication skills, relationship skills, and emotional literacy skills to couples.


"Communication is the 'key' to life. For my work with wounded warriors and returning heroes these skills will be so valuable for families, particularly when they are trying to re-connect."

Carrie M. Holley McCormack
Army Warrior Transition Unit
San Diego, California


“We started out doing three or four seminars a year,” Waldrop said. “We got a lot of positive feedback, so now we’re up to about 11 a year. We’ve done two- or three-day seminars for over 400 couples. We’re here in Georgia, but we’ve had couples come here from as far away as Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Florida…all over. The seminar is free, so their only expense is transportation. If they can make it here, we get them into the program.” The idea is gradually catching on at other VA sites across the nation.

The VA San Diego Healthcare System now has a marriage seminar program up and running, while about 20 other VA medical centers are in the beginning stages of establishing their own programs.

So what exactly goes on at a marriage seminar, anyway?

Talk to Me

“We spend about 70 percent of our time helping couples with their communication skills,” Craddock said. “When these Veterans come back from overseas, they don’t have the communication tools to talk to their spouse about their pain, their frustration, their grief. And we’re seeing this in both males and females…even the females returning from Iraq and Afghanistan want to seclude themselves. Just like the guys, they don’t want to be around crowds…they don’t want to go on family vacations or outings…”

“When we went to that first seminar, I had PTSD so bad I couldn’t even sit with everybody.” — Ralph Lynn, Former Army Sniper Both Craddock and Waldrop point to one troubled couple in particular as the perfect example of how effective their program can be at healing broken relationships.

“Ralph had been an Army sniper in Iraq,” Waldrop said. “When he and his wife, Michelle, first came to our seminar, they sat in the back of the room and wouldn’t join the group. We couldn’t get any response from them…”

“But they completed the seminar,” said Craddock. “Then, they signed up for our advanced seminar. Now they’re both certified instructors in our program. For two years they’ve been helping us teach other couples how to reconnect.”

Up Against the Wall

“When we went to that first seminar, I had PTSD so bad I couldn’t even sit with everybody,” Ralph acknowledged. “I had to sit in the back of the room, against the wall, so I could see everybody.

Michelle sat back there with me. She was the only one I could trust. I didn’t trust anybody else.”

Ralph said it was his wife who convinced him to try out the VA marriage seminar. Up until then, he’d never really thought of himself as a ‘marriage seminar’ kind of guy.

“Michelle knew something was going on long before I was ready to do something about it,” he admitted.

“Usually the one closest to you bears the brunt of the mess. “I thought I was the only one going through what I was going through,” he continued. “But at the seminar I saw other couples going through the same thing…having the same problems Michelle and I were.

Mainly, it was communication. We didn’t talk to each other, we talked at each other. At the VA seminar I learned that marriage is a separate entity that has to be nurtured, like a child. You have your day job. You have your spouse. Then you have your marriage…it has a life of its own.”

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

“They taught us how to listen to each other,” said Michelle. “Now we can talk to each other about what we’re feeling inside. When that happens, it brings you closer together. It feels really, really good.” “We see some remarkable transitions at these seminars,” Ralph added. “We see couples who won’t hold hands. They won’t touch each other, or put their arms around each other. By the end of the seminar, all that changes. They’re holding hands. They’re hugging.

“Without the VA, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he concluded.

“Anything that can keep people from going through what I and my wife went through, I’m all for it.” Michelle agreed. “These people are coming back from war zones,” she said. “They’ve shut down. They’ve experienced things no human being should experience. They don’t know how to communicate anymore because they’re used to being given commands… “Before we did the seminar, I could talk to Ralph all day long and not get a response. I might get a nod out of him. But now we can actually have a normal conversation. That’s pretty awesome.”

When VA’s marriage seminars first began, only Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts were being accepted into the program. Since then, VA has opened the program to anyone who’s ever worn the uniform.

For more information on VA’s marriage seminar program, contact Chaplain Dick MIllspaugh, PAIRS/VA Trainer, at (888) 724-7748 x834 or by email from this link.

Letters from Veterans Participating in PAIRS VA Marriage Seminar

"I am writing this letter to thank you for funding the PAIRS Couples Seminar. My husband and I have been searching for tools to enable us to navigate through our problems. We arrived at the retreat site with our marriage hanging in the balance. My husband and I have been experiencing significant marital problems. And the distance between us has grown to the point we don’t communicate. I have considered separation in our failure to resolve past trauma in our relationship. We were at a very low place, and our family dynamic became extremely dysfunctional. This retreat was recommended to provide an opportunity to begin to heal our troubled interpersonal dynamic. I have felt much burned out having been in couples counseling to resolve our conflict. I arrived on site wanting to have a relaxing birthday weekend, but still angry and hurt about years of unresolved conflict. Despite my intention to maintain my emotional distance with my husband, I experienced a profound change. I observed my partner demonstrate positive behavior change, move outside his comfort zone, and become vulnerable. I began feeling a sense of connectedness and my wall came down. I began to experience a sense of intimacy I longed for. My husband and I gained the tools we needed to save our marriage and begin to heal. We appreciate the chance to engage in the retreat – we’ve committed to fight for our marriage – together as a unit – to claim our emotional and physical intimacy. I am deeply appreciative and words are not enough to express my sincere gratitude."

"My husband and I came to this seminar looking for a solution for our problems. We’ve been through a lot and practically we weren’t able to address the issues because we had so much anger build between us that we couldn’t even talk about what were our feelings. Here, these wonderful people helped us to take the first step towards the resolution of our problems. They gave us several tools to use that my husband and I committed to use in order to have the life we wanted since we said 'I do.' We actually had an argument, a fight during the retreat and they were so kind, patient and helpful.They went to our room and spoke to us. They guided us through the tool’s instructions we were learning at the seminar and definitely gave us so much hope. This experience was what we needed, it is what I needed, to help my relationship to gain the confidence that my husband is my partner in crime, not my enemy. Thank for everything you have done for us."

"Thank you for this seminar, one revelation out of this seminar that come out in the process, was after 39 years of marriage my wife felt that she was willing to call it quits, terminate our relationship. As a result of this opportunity and marriage enrichment program, I believe our marriage is on the way up. I would like to recommend others to take this course."

"I am grateful for this wonderful program and very much needed. This program has incredibly saved our marriage. I am 62 years old with a 6-year old daughter. If it wasn’t for this PAIRS Program seminar I really don’t know what I would have done. We were very close to end it. Now we have positive hope for our future."

"Thank you for allowing us to come together as a couple. We have had a very rocky marriage over the last 14 months, to include a 7 month separation. The tools taught will be invaluable in helping us rebuild and communicate in our marriage. We are looking forward to not only getting a chance to use these PAIRS tools, but also the follow up at the VA Hospital. "

"I am writing this to thank you for giving my wife and me the opportunity to attend this couples seminar. Prior to attending, we were having very significant marital difficulties; almost to the point of separating. By utilizing the tools we have learned over the past few days, we now are much more hopeful."

"I was very impressed with the things that I learned at the PAIRS seminar. I learned more this weekend on how to effectively communicate in my relationship than I have in 12 marriage counseling sessions. 75% of what I learned this weekend is very critical to my marriage."

"Thank you for allowing us to attend this seminar; I was able to talk with my wife for the first time in a long time. "

"I appreciate that this opportunity was given to my husband and I to enhance our relationship. Prior to this seminar we had discussed the choice of parting our separate ways. We had a lack of communication and understanding and we would argue or ignore that there was a problem. Thanks to this seminar I have the confidence needed to continue to fight for our relationship. I have the tools needed and the understanding of how to use them. Thanks to this seminar and its tools we have given ourselves the opportunity to start over. Thank you for making this possible."

"This weekend has meant more to me than any other weekend alone with my partner. I have learned so much about my partner and his feelings getting the chance to discuss numerous topics that throughout our entire relationship we never understood about one another. The materials and information given has brought us much closer than I expected. I am grateful for this opportunity with my partner. I hope to see this program expand and continue to help keep relationships going and help keep divorce from being the option. I would definitely encourage couples to take these courses. This experience helped me open my mind up to communicate with my partner, even be more intimate. I can honestly say that if I had the chance to do this program I would and I would tell more partners to join for a life changing experience. I recommend this program to anybody reading my letter of appreciation."

"We attended the weekend PAIRS class. It has given my husband and me the chance to open up instead of being in 2 different rooms at home only saying very few words to one another. For many years it was that way. Our life was just about over with one or the other. The tools that were given to us had made us think of what we had when we got married. We wasted a lot of years by not talking. We're up in years and time we lost can’t get back. But we can start over by using the tools that was given. Thank you for this program. We were given another chance."

"I want to say thank you for your help and support to do this. It was an amazing experience to me. We were having a lot of problems in our relationship and when my fiancé heard about this seminar for couples we put our names in the list and I feel so grateful and happy for being here. It was really good for me, I learned a lot and I was able to spend some time alone for the first time with my future husband. I got so much new information and I feel so blessed for getting the opportunity to come and hear and share with others. Thank you for giving to my life a new beginning. Now I feel more secure and aware on how to communicate my feelings with my partner, it really makes a big difference to my life not only with him but also with my kids and friends. And it is something that I am going to share with everybody around me. God bless your hearts and lives for letting us be part of something so beautiful. Thank you very much,"

"My husband and I are both Marines and have been married 13 days upon beginning the PAIRS program. The PAIRS program has helped us build and start a great foundation of how to effectively communicate as husband and wife. I am extremely thankful that this seminar was available to us completely free of charge. Starting, I first thought it would be easier and we would only have notes to take for the future because it was for couples with deep long-set issues. I didn’t expect that as happy newlyweds, we’d have/need a lot of help communicating . . . I was wrong. This program really helped me realize a lot of things about me, my husband and our relationship. I learned what it TRULY means to listen and how to learn to give my husband what he needs, as well as ask for my own needs specifically. I’ve learned that we can talk about hurtful and difficult topics without going in circles and actually agree on a solution that works for both of us. I truly believe that this program will and has done great wonders for couples who’ve participated! As a 'baby' in being married, if it helped us with small and seemingly harmless issues/conflicts, I can clearly see how the tools and skills they taught us will help us and the other couples to communicate more effectively, in turn, enhancing our marriage! I could go on forever, but I don’t want to take up more of your time. I do want to THANK YOU for your faith in the program and would like to reassure you that it has and is changing lives and marriages. This weekend has been an amazing eye-opener and I plan to utilize what I learned here in my relationship with my husband, and anyone else I can. Thank you for your time and for being a part of improving the quality of life for so many families! God bless you! Sgt, USMC "

"I just wanted to let you know that this seminar was very helpful to me. There are not programs like this to help us in our marriage. I thought I was at a dead and I have learned that my behavior and understanding will better me in the long run. Thank you for your seminar."

"This weekend has helped give me the tools to achieve my goal of spending the rest of my life with my spouse. It has also given me the tools to try to help my wife with her depression. I hope there will be expansion classes. This program is a wonderful program. And I hope the VA will offer this as part of their program (i.e. not as grant). Because I believe a strong family will help vets more than any other VA program could. Thank you!"

"This weekend has been very meaningful to me personally (individual) and as a couple. I have learned skills that will help me communicate better with my husband. Since I deal with depression, being able to use these techniques for a more favorable outcome decreases my anxiety when I have to raise a touchy issue. We have both learned and have been able to talk about issues that had previously been avoided because we felt safe in handling it. I also feel I will be a better parent because I can now teach my kids a better way of handling conflict and their emotions."

"Thank you very much for giving my husband and me the opportunity to attend this marriage retreat. It has really helped us to connect on a deeper level and to learn some valuable tools to strengthen our relationship. We are still at the beginning of our marriage and I truly believe that this retreat has provided us with some great techniques and skills to help make our marriage a successful one. It was great to learn from our instructors during the seminar as well as meet some other couples who can talk to us and issues we face. I believe that it is helpful to have a marriage retreat which spouses of Veterans or active duty military couples because the challenges we face are unique. Thank you very much for this amazing experience and I hope that many more couples will be able to enjoy this opportunity as well."

"Thank you so much for the funding that saved my marriage! I’m sure you get a lot of letters saying this but I truly mean it. My husband and I have been married for 9 years and attended counseling, marriage seminars, had one-one-one moderators yet no one or resource has made an impact like PAIRS Essentials. For the first time, we actually engaged in meaningful discussions that offer a win/win for both of us. I actually looked at my husband differently by the end of the first night because he 'got it.' He articulated how sorry he was for the hurt he caused our marriage and family. And I received it because I could tell his heart had been changed, I have tremendous hope in our outcome and look forward to learning more about PAIRS and sharing it with other couples. So, again thank you for giving us the practical tools necessary to change our outlook, behavior, family and relationships. With giving people like you, we are able to keep giving to each other. I pray God’s blessings upon you and yours and will always feel a connection beyond my husband’s years of service to the VA and people like you. May your life be full knowing how your generosity is changing lives."

"This weekend allowed my husband and me to reconnect and focus on our marriage. We had the opportunity to examine key aspects of ourselves as individuals and as a couple. We addressed concerns in a safe way and shared our feelings. It was especially helpful to us because my husband is a different man after suffering combat trauma. We are still working on finding our 'new normal' and this weekend gave us time and good guidance to begin this process. Thank you for providing this opportunity for us to continue building our relationship."

"Thank you so much for funding this weekend for me and my husband and all the other couples here. My husband and I have been struggling with so many issues and emotions over the past 3 years. I was very angry and closed before coming here. I now feel very hopeful that we can talk things out and really hear and listen to each other and understand each other more. This will allow me to trust him much more and feel much more free to love him. Thank you so much for giving us this education, information and opportunity! We both will live happier, more fulfilling lives together; which is priceless! Thanks for funding this grant! God Bless!"

"I would like to thank you for funding this weekend with my husband and me. After his deployment I felt disconnected with him and felt like I lost and forgot how to communicate with him. I thank you for the hotel stay, the food and all of the communication information. I know I will be using the skills I learned today with my husband and family members. Thank you! "

"This weekend seminar has been full of good things for our relationship. I have been having many issues come up from a previous deployment that still are unresolved causing much stress on my relationship with my wife. These tools learned during the classes have enabled us to communicate more effectively and we are beginning to take on more issues."

"This weekend has been ground breaking for my husband and me. There are issues we have been dealing with for 19 years. Two of these issues seem to be starting to be resolved just in these few days. I am a cancer survivor and he suffers from PTSD (from being sent to Iraq). We have found a closeness we haven’t had in years – just from being at this seminar. Thank you for funding this. It really does help. "

"I would like to thank you for this experience. Before attending this seminar I thought my marriage of 19 years was coming to an end. No communication or patience being together was a sign for no more. With these trainers and this program I feel a new start on life. I would refer to anyone in need."

"Thank you for this seminar, one revelation out of this seminar that came out in the process, was after 39 years of marriage my wife felt that she was willing to call it quits, terminate our relationship. As a result of this opportunity and marriage enrichment program, I believe our marriage is on the way up. I would like to recommend others to take this course. "

"I have been through several/marriage seminars in the faith base community but this PAIRS weekend has been great. My wife and I were as far apart as any couple on the edge of divorce could be but this weekend has been a game changer. I learned several tools to help my marriage grow and thrive. We got past some rough situations but PAIRS/Chaplain Service make learning together fun and interesting. Please continue to fund such a wonderful program for the health of a larger military/veteran community. Thank you and May God bless."

"This course was such a blessing. Prior to this course, my husband and I were on a path to self destruction and taking our 3 children with us. This course allowed us to create a safe way to talk about our issues. I know it will take a lot of continuing effort on our part, but this course provided my husband and I tools to begin the journey. I would recommend this course to any couple, regardless of whether they are going through rough times or not. This course was life changing. Thank you so much for this opportunity."

"This program and staff has helped me understand that I am not alone in my problems. This program has helped me become a better man, husband, and father. This has helped me learn to not be afraid to communicate. This program has re-placed me back on track to a better marriage. This is a must for any Soldier or Veteran!"

"This seminar provided a number of skills for me and my wife to improve our relationship, and as our children grow, our relationship with them. At least once this year my wife and I have considered separating over issues that have haunted us for three years. For the first time, I feel we possess the skills to move on. I am very grateful to everyone involved in this seminar and would recommend it to anyone. My best regards and greatest appreciation."

"The PAIRS seminar was a life changing experience for my spouse and me. When we arrived at the retreat we felt slightly emotionally depleted with one another, and running on fumes. During the weekend through the help of the exercises that the PAIRS Foundation presenters taught us, we were able to peel off and release the bad clogs that have been causing problems in our marriage. The exercises were effective, and my spouse and I are leaving here feeling rejuvenated and strong, also ready to take on any new challenges or disagreements that my come our way by using the effective approach skills that we were taught to get to a positive and mutual solution. Thank you for funding this event. I hope that you can grant the funds for this weekend in the future, so that other couples can experience what I and my spouse did."

"I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to reconnect with my husband during a much needed time in our marriage. We needed this professional guidance to put us in the right path to strengthen our relationship and to give us hope. These skills we learned will also help our duties as parents by enhancing our communication with our son. The help you offered us is extremely appreciated. Having the expenses paid and childcare allowed us to focus on healing our communication issues and get a better stage of mind. I am confident this will translate into a better family overall. I am delighted and lucky to be part of this event."

"This course has so many great tools for couples to use to strengthen their relationships. I believe that every couple should have the opportunity to attend one of the PAIRS Foundation classes. I know that my relationship with my wife is now stronger and we can be open with each other w/out being angry or defensive. I think that it was awesome that the retreat was free to us because we would not have been able to afford it otherwise. THANK YOU!!!"

"Thank you very much for allowing us to come to this seminar. We are currently going through the divorce process and this may have saved this marriage. It has given us the opportunity to share many of the things that have torn us apart. It allowed me to find the root of the problem and not just skim over what was perceived to be the issue. Thank you!"

"I can’t begin to thank you enough for your financial support to the PAIRS couples retreat. Without that support it is unlikely that my wife and I would have been able or willing to attend as we are currently in the process of a divorce and would not have been in a position to pay for this retreat. This retreat made such an impact on me and my wife that we have decided to try to use the tools we have learned to do our best to save our fifteen year marriage when nothing seemed to be capable of saving it. I can’t begin to express the importance of this information or my gratitude for your generosity and selfless support to such a worthy cause."

"Thank you so much for this life-changing seminar. It saved my relationship! My spouse and I wouldn’t have been able to afford such a fabulous retreat without the grant and your support. It is such a gift to military couples and veterans to give them the opportunity to re strengthen their relationship. One of my favorite moments of the retreat was the staff. The material is well written and effective. We hope this retreat is available for many couples to benefit from, because it gave hope to so many military men and women wanting to not only fight for their country, but their significant other too. Thank you so much."

"From the bottom of my heart I wish to express my sincerest thanks and appreciation. I have witnessed firsthand the effects of the PAIRS training on 32 other couples. I do not know what the success rate will be but even if it is only 25% it is worth the World. You have given us all not only hoped but the skills to work on being better partners to our loved ones. My wife and I have been married for 10 years with over 5 deployments and have our share of struggles. With this workshop we do not have to add our marriage to the list of sacrifices we have experienced in our service to our country. Thank you and God Bless,USMC."

"Thank you very much for giving my wife and I the opportunity to take a weekend away from our home to learn valuable communication skills which will, I hope, save our marriage. These tools and skills we learned will definitely benefit our marriage and bring us closer as a couple. I hope you keep helping future veterans and active service-members with these couples’ retreats because I feel it would be very effective for any married couple. Thank you again and God bless!"

"Thank you for the financial support that made this past weekend’s retreat possible for my wife and me. The past year has been a real struggle – emotionally – for me. The PAIRS training has given me not only hope, but actual tools for my marriage and other relationships. I hope that other couples will have the opportunity to receive the benefit of this training/curriculum with your support."

"Thank you so much for providing the resources in order for PAIRS to facilitate this amazing and life changing retreat. My husband and I have been married for over 10 years and during that time we have been apart cumulatively for over 6 of them, due to deployments and military life tempo. We truly wanted our marriage to last but had realized that this time apart has hindered our communication and led us down to separate paths that we didn’t know how to merge back together. We grew up with poor models of communication and never knew how to effectively get our point, and wishes, hopes and dreams across. After having this training and tools to use in the future, I hope to see us spending the rest of our life together and look forward to sharing and modeling better communication skills for our children. You have not only impacted our future but those of our children and their future relationships in a positive manner.Thank you so much, keep them going!"

"I wanted to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude for the opportunity that your grant provided for my marriage. I will admit that when my husband made me aware of the existence of this retreat, it brought tears to my eyes to know that your group understands the need for this to exist and that it was provided to our Veterans for free, it allowed us to take advantage of this opportunity without any hesitation. Thank you. Thank you for the wonderful lessons and tools that you provided for my husband and I; thank you for making it easy for us to allow ourselves to take advantage of this; thank you for caring. This seminar has been a true gift to our marriage, a gift that will result in a stronger relationship not only for our marriage, but all of our family. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you."

"Thank you very much for making the PAIRS seminar possible for my husband and me to attend. All means so much to me and our marriage. The marriage enrichment seminar weekend has given us the skills to make our marriage successful. The retreat was a blessing in a very challenging time of our marriage. Thank you so very much. Thank you!"

"I want to thank you so much for making this all possible for us couples who are having marital problems. This workshop has helped us address problems that we have been dealing with for many years. It has provided us the tools and skills to fix these problems. We are so grateful to be able to participate in this program to better our relationships. Like our mentor said 'We are voting yes for our relationship!'"

"I would like to take a few moments to express my THANKS for this weekend. Because of your interest and concerns my husband and I were able to spend much needed time to reflect and try to reconnect. PAIRS is an awesome program, let’s please keep it going. Very helpful Thank you!"

"Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!! My wife and I couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity for us to enrich our marriage through PAIRS tools. After 35 years of marriage we still have much need to improve our communication skills. We unburied many unknowns in each other, as well. This has been the perfect complement to my weekly PTSD group; bringing my wife onboard with me. As a Vietnam Veteran you have hit the target with the PAIRS retreat."

"I would like to take this opportunity to say, THANK YOU!! I feel so blessed that you have provided such a wonderful service to me and my husband. Attending PAIRS has really allowed me to empty my 'emotional jug' and build on my marriage. I never expected to get all that I have gotten. I came into the weekend drained, confused, and all over the place. I can honestly say that I am leaving, empowered and refreshed. It is such a BLESSING for such an experience to be provided for the military ABSOLUTELY FREE to us! I will forever be grateful. I praise that God richly bless you all. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!"

"Thank you for all of your help and support for this PAIRS seminar. My wife and I have definitely grown closer this weekend! Throughout the course of the weekend, I have learned a handful of simple and easy to use tools that will help my wife and me throughout the course of our marriage. We have already used the tools that have been given to us and avoided a common argument in less than 3 minutes last night! I am honestly sorry that I am happily married again!"

"I would like to say thank you for your continued support for PAIRS couples retreat. It helped my husband and I to see that our relationship is still worth fighting for and that there is other couples that go through the same issues that we go through. This has been a great experience for me and I am sure for my husband as well. We have learned new tools that we can use in our relationship and help us solve any existing issues that we may have. We really appreciate being part of this retreat and would love to share this or recommend it to my friends, co-workers in the military. I hope that you continue to support this program. Thank you so much!"

"Thank you so very much for funding this amazing marriage seminar! You guys are doing such a wonderful thing for couples who are either struggling or wanting to build a stronger, more positive and healthier relationship. Words could not express my gratitude and all that I have taken and absorbed this weekend. Thank you for all of these fantastic tools that my husband and I will be using with each other from here on and with all of our other relationships with friends, other family members, children, co-workers and etc. Thank you for assisting me in nourishing and making some positive changes that will benefit me, my marriage and my life in general from here on out! I am so grateful for this opportunity and weekend! Please keep this going for many years to come!"

"This seminar has changed the entire dynamic of my 18-year marriage. Both my husband and I have PTSD, making communication nearly impossible for the last 5-7 years. Coming to this retreat, I was skeptical on how it would help, or if it was possible to. For the first time in 6 years my husband opened up to me during one of the exercises. Throughout the process we saw new sides of each other, we saw the people we were before getting diagnosed and saw we are both OK and can lean on and trust each other through our lives, lean on one another, communicate and have many happy years together. Thank you for making all this possible through grants. Every couple needs this retreat!"

"I thank you for making this possible. I thought my marriage was pretty much over and there was no hope. This retreat changed that perception. Please continue to do what you do to help people like me save our marriages. There are so many more Soldiers out there who struggle, and they have not heard about this yet. Give them a chance to get help. They too have sacrificed so much for their country and their significant others suffer just as much and because of that sacrifice problems develop in the relationship. Please give them the help they deserve. With much thanks and appreciation."

"I sincerely would like to thank you for the funding you so generously granted PAIRS. Without your support financially and vision to embrace healthier, happier couples my marriage would be over. Because you have taken up the goal and vision of stronger healthier marriages and continue to support their goal financially, countless couples like myself are able to get healing and a second chance to have a real marriage full of hope, love and bonding. This also gives us tools to implement in our home, decreasing children that are dysfunctional, and turning out children that are healthy adults into society. Thank you sincerely for investing."

"I would like to say that this weekend has/is saving my marriage. We talked about things that we haven’t ever before. The location was amazing and quiet; the staff helped up just clear the air. Being a military family can be draining and to learn skills and ways to keep our unit strong. Thank you for the opportunity to save my unit."

"I just wanted to take a few minutes to tell you all that the PAIRS training/tools given to me has shown me how to connect with my wife again after coming back with PTSD. Giving us a chance to work through like together, and keep our family as a whole unit, we were lost and now we have tools to help us find some light and warmth on the colder days. Thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you!"

"Thank you for the opportunity to 'reclaim' my marriage. I have sacrificed so much to ensure the safety and security of the country I love. Regrettably one of these sacrifices is my relationship with my amazing wife. Thank you for funding an amazing gift like PAIRS to help me get that relationship with my wife back. Please keep supporting the troops and their families, we appreciate it. SSG, U.S. Army OIF and OEF Veterans"

"I appreciate the opportunity that you have given to me and my husband. I feel that without attending this retreat my relationship/marriage would end. I now feel confident that I and my husband will be able to learn to communicate much better and resolve issues without arguing or yelling by using the tools. Thank you very much!"

"I would love to say thank you more than ever for the funds to help my husband and I with our marriage with this marriage retreat. My husband and I have seriously thought about just giving up, but this helped us open our eyes to why he yells and why I shut down. We know that now we can walk away from this retreat with the tips we learned to help us be a better couple and a better person to each other. Also I am glad that we can teach these techniques to our son to improve his relationship with his spouse. Thank you so much!"

"Thank you for funding this marriage program for military families. I believe a program like this is long overdue. I have been toying with the idea of divorce because I felt my relationship didn’t not have a chance. I now have the tools and the confidence that my family with stay intact – and that we can make it through more deployments. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!!"

"We attended the PAIRS seminar and it has given us the empowerment and tools to save our relationship. Not only that but we experienced communication with other Veterans going thru the same stuff as we were and it was so relieving to know and learn we were not alone. We practiced what we learned and had a chance to interact to build a good foundation for future growth. If you find any funding to continue the efforts to keep the Veterans together and healthy and their families safely functioning, it would honor us!"

"Thank you for providing a grant for this wonderful program. I think the communication skills provided in PAIRS would be good for any marriage but especially helpful for military couples. All the separations and deployments military couples go through are unique and this program offers extra support to marriages. I believe a healthy marriage for military couples makes the active duty member a mentally and emotionally more stable person which makes him or her more effective to the service. For those couples that have left the service yet still active to deal with issues concerning wartime service I think this program can be very healing to them and their spouse. My hope is these types of services will continue to be provided to our service members so that our county will continue to have strong healthy families. Thank you!"

"My experience here was an eye opener! I was expecting a boring, useless, death by power point lecture. The tools that we were given will help my marriage and are highly effective. I learned and saw other couples with the same issues so it let me know that I was not the only one to have problems. I would like to be able to attend more retreats and I highly recommend it to anybody looking to strengthen their marriage. Cpl , USMC"

"I would personally like to say thank you for the opportunity to change a good marriage into a great one. The valuable opportunity you have afforded us to get away and concentrate on us will have an amazing effect on our family through our marriage. We happen to be kind of people who like to encourage others in what we learn so you can say with confidence that you have affected an entire community. Thank you again for giving those that have given much an outstanding opportunity!"

"I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the PAIRS retreat. It has helped me tremendously with my new marriage and communication with my husband. I am going away from the retreat feeling free and knowledgeable. I am a better person because of the tools I now have to use. I better understand my husband and his career now as well. This program helps you make positive lifestyle changes. I am hopeful for the continued success of the program. Thank you again!!!"

"I’m sending you this message in regard to a recent Marriage seminar my wife and I attended. Before attending the retreat we were having a communication problem that had been going on for several years. Before attending the retreat we were both very apprehensive of what to expect during the Retreat weekend. She and I have been married for 11 years and have certainly seen our ups and downs as most marriages do but for some reason the lack of communication between us seemed to be more prominent than ever, and we were both unhappy with the relationship. I am happy to report that since completing the Retreat the VA gave us many tools to use to help us open the communication gap between us and it has been working. The communication cards that we received have been used on a regular basis and if there’s ever a subject matter to be brought up these cards help to define a way to talk to each other about an issue that is beneficial to both of us. I wanted to extend our thanks to you and the VA Staff and though our Marriage isn’t perfect it’s better because of the Retreat. I will continue to promote the program to my shipmates and hope to have the opportunity to attend additional Retreats. USCG Sta Charleston, SC."

"A simple concept. 'No Man has greater love than to give his life for a friend' 'No man could give greater love to a vetran than to enable him to Love his Wife & Family' And this program gives vets without hope that ability. Life Changing – Life Saving."

"This program has given us the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s given us hope to live happily and as partners and not just co-existing in pain. We knew our God put us together and now we have to tools to grow together.This is life-changing!"

"This seminar has brought me and my spouse closer than ever. I would recommend this for everyone who decides to have a life partner. Awesome. Thanks."

"My husband and I have been married for 21 years. Our marriage is good/solid. We have a 14 and 19 year old daughters. I am amazed what we uncovered and discovered about each other during this retreat. Now, we have been issued the correct tools to deal with present issues and past hurts. We learned ways to release them and hopefully forget them by not letting them resurface so they can make an impact in our relationship. We feel that putting money into this program is better than having the money going into a program to support the spouses or children of those families that end in a broken home. Nothing is more true than saving the family structure for our active and retired military families. Our families are the backbone of this country. If they are intact and healthy it is possible for that to roll over into the structure of our country."

"I would like to thank you for the opportunity for this experience to be able to participate and be a part of this awesome retreat. I have learned a lot and look forward to using these tools with my husband. Thanks."

"Unbelievable, overdue, fantastic, healing, extraordinary, questions answered, questions resolved, homes fixed, marriages heals, LIVES CHANGED, kindness, openness, sincerity, exchange of information. A great fountain of knowledge and wealth. Riches untold to move onto the future."

"Thank you very much for the opportunity to have this training, it was very helpful and hopeful for my spouse and I. It is such a knowledgeable training that the tools given is to build a great relationship for anyone. I wish it was a longer class to practice more and get better at it, that way as we go home it would be easier to use the tools and keep taking the relationship on that Straight Road. This seminar will be highly recommended by me to friends, family, coworkers anyone that may cross my path that may need the help I would recommend it."

"Thank you so much for this wonderful weekend. Initially, I had misgivings about the usefulness of this program and how applicable it would be to my life and my relationship but as the weekend is coming to a close, I realize that this program has been very beneficial and has made a strong impact on my relationship. No miracles occurred but I did recieve useful tools which will help not only my relationship with my spouse but with my families and others as well. I wish this program was available when we were newlyweds or even just early in the military. I believe that this one of the better programs that I have ever attended. I liked it because it gave useful, practical, applicable information and tools that we can use."

"This seminar was extremely beneficial and effective in giving my wife and I tools we needed to improve our ways of communicating. Unlike counseling, this was not a forum to air our dirty laundry which I appreciate."

"I would like to thank you for this loving weekend with my wife. I truly feel this has helped our relationship. And has provided tools to help us grow."

"For a 20 yr retired Navy Vet this was an incredible experience. I am a 3X divorcee… Many of my experiences have been unfolded and I now understand much more/better. I have a lot of growth/ing to do… but, with the new tools learned and lots of practice. I feel there will be a happy ending. Not only for me and my future partner (in crime ?) but for many of the other couples here."

"I’d like to say thank you for offering this opportunity for my husband and I to save our marriage. It does mean a lot that someone has made the effort to have this chance to change for the better ‘awarded’ (offered) to us. I know we will use these tools afforded to us by you."

"Thank you for giving us this opportunity to learn about communication and relationship skills with each other. Thank you for acknowledging the importance of families and love. This has been a good learning experience for my husband and I. Thank you again."

"Thank you for making this possible for my wife and I. We have been married for 7 years and have struggled to find the tools we needed for help our relationship nourish. You have given us this opportunity, thank you a million times over."

"I am so grateful for this chance to learn so much to better my relationship with my husband. I know that this new knowledge will help us in our life together! Thank you!"

"Thank you for the opportunity to help my spouse and myself create a great foundation for our marriage. I appreciate that others took time out of their day to help people such as myself and my spouse have a better future with the skills that we have been taught through this retreat. Again thank you very much."

"I can’t begin to thank you enough for your financial support to the PAIRS couples retreat. Without that support it is unlikely that my wife and I would have been able or willing to attend as we are currently in the process of a divorce and would not have been in a position to pay for this retreat. This retreat make such an impact on me and my wife that we have decided to try to use the tools we have learned to do our best to save our fifteen year marriage when nothing seemed to be capable of saving it. I can’t begin to express the importance of this information or my gratitude for your generosity and selfless support to such a worthy cause."

"Thank you very much for giving my wife and I the opportunity to take a weekend away from our home to learn valuable communication skills which will, I hope, save our marriage. These tools and skills we learned will definitely benefit our marriage and bring us closer as a couple. I hope you keep helping future veterans and active service-members with these couples’ retreats because I feel it would be very effective for any married couple. Thank you again and God bless!"

"Thank you for the financial support that made this past weekend’s seminar possible for my wife and me. The past year has been a real struggle – emotionally – for me. The PAIRS training has given me not only hope, but actual tools for my marriage and other relationships. I hope that other couples will have the opportunity to receive the benefit of this training/curriculum with your support."

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