KANSAS CITY, MO (September 30, 2015) — When returning from combat, many service members find the transition back to civilian life challenging. Often, this challenge takes a toll on their relationships with their spouses, as they struggle to cope with the stress associated with their time in combat. It is with this in mind that Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) offers its Project Odyssey® couples retreats.
Last week, five couples from the Kansas City area participated in one of these retreats, designed to teach them how to rebuild trust and relationships affected by the experiences of combat. Over this five-day retreat, couples engaged with nature, with each other, and with Project Odyssey staff while participating in activities including high ropes courses, canoeing, a cooking class, and trust-building exercises.
Throughout the week the participants, both as couples and as individuals, were encouraged to set goals they could use both in the immediate task in front of them and when they returned to their daily lives. WWP staff members from the Project Odyssey program will follow up with each individual in the weeks and months following the retreat, tracking their progress toward their goals and providing encouragement and support.
“Project Odyssey was truly a life-changing experience,” says Gina Hill, caregiver to her husband, Allen, who was injured by an improvised explosive device while deployed to Iraq in 2007. Allen suffered a traumatic brain injury and collapsed lung as a result of the blast. He still feels the effects of these injuries and also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his experiences in combat.
“It is important for us to see that others are going through the same things that we are,” says Gina. “It is nice to be able to focus on our relationship while also taking time to learn how to care for ourselves individually.”
Project Odyssey is offered to WWP Alumni and their spouses as part of the organization’s Mind pillar, focused on equipping injured service members with the tools necessary to live a life free from the barriers or stigmas associated with mental illness.