Footsteps in Faith: Hawaii doesn’t need to ‘the rock’ for family members

| June 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

Chaplain (Capt.) Mark Sedwick
65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command



You may be thinking, “Wow, what’s the matter with the chaplain? Why is he comparing Hawaii to a prison?”

When we hear the term, “the rock,” our memories take us back to several movies and a recent TV show about Alcatraz, the infamous federal prison located on an island just off the coast of San Francisco. The prison held some of this nation’s most notorious criminals including Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly before it was closed down in the early 1960s.

Even 50 years after shuttering its doors, Alcatraz remains an extremely popular tourist attraction and, as I mentioned earlier, has formed the backdrop for a number of movies and a recent Fox TV series.

And no, I’m not really comparing Hawaii to Alcatraz.

However, many military families stationed in Hawaii do occasionally feel isolated and even “trapped in paradise.” This is especially true for Hispanic military spouses who suddenly discover that being bi-lingual actually means English/Japanese in Hawaii.

In fact, the three Army chaplains stationed at Schofield Barracks who speak Spanish, including myself, have noticed that many Hispanic couples request an early return of dependents, or ERD, because the Spanish-speaking spouse doesn’t feel connected to the community. This is especially true for those family members who do not speak English well.

The Schofield Barracks Chaplain team will address this issue by hosting a “Sabor Latino,” or Latin flavor, event, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Aug. 4. We will offer Mexican and Puerto Rican food catered by local restaurants. We’ll connect Hispanic families to resources such as Army Community Service’s English as a second language classes.

Perhaps you speak English perfectly and still feel isolated here on the rock. Maybe the high cost of airline tickets has prevented you from attending family reunions and other events back on the mainland.

Maybe you are a one-car family like mine and you live off post, which can greatly increase the trapped in paradise syndrome.

Maybe you and your spouse have even talked about an ERD. The good news is that applying for an ERD requires you to talk with your battalion chaplain. We will gladly point out the pros and cons, mostly cons, of voting yourself off the island early.

My first encouragement for a couple seeking an ERD is to attend a Strong Bonds marriage retreat. Besides learning valuable relationship building skills, couples can meet other couples from the unit who are probably experiencing the same feelings of isolation and loneliness. Meeting other couples means pooling resources — including babysitting, combined convoys to the commissary and exchange and the sharing of knowledge about health care and other important topics.

I also encourage couples to get actively involved with their family readiness group where many of the same resources can be acquired.

In conclusion, I encourage you to visit your battalion chaplain when paradise turns into the rock over time. We have the technology to help you divorce-proof your marriage and make your tour here in Hawaii into a life-long happy memory.


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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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