Tinker families benefit from deployment retreat

  • Published
  • By Brandice J. O'Brien
  • Tinker Public Affairs
During a weekend of erratic spring storms, approximately 20 Tinker active-duty members with their families ventured to Norman for an opportunity to learn how to prevent and cope with unpredictability in their relationships. The April 13-15 pre-deployment family retreat helped couples and families reset foundations by offering tips and seminars to cope with challenges often triggered by deployment.

Hosted at the National Center for Employee Development Conference Center, the Team Tinker Pre-Deployment Family Retreat is designed for families in which one member has deployed within the past six months or will deploy in the upcoming six months.

"Pay attention," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Terrinoni, 72nd ABW chaplain, during opening remarks. "Even if you walk away from here with just one good idea that helps your marriage and relationship, it's worth your time."

Following Friday's check-in was an ice-cream social in which families were encouraged to bond with one another. On Saturday the work began. Children were grouped by age and participated in their own activities. While the youngest children were babysat, the 6 to 12 year-olds talked about what mom and dad do. The teenagers learned communication skills.

Meanwhile, couples attended seminars that taught them to build resiliency and gave them tools to survive the separation. After the seminars, families were encouraged to regroup and exercise the tools and create memories.

"Our boss recommended we come," said Staff Sgt. Renee Adkins of the 72nd Security Forces Squadron. With her husband, Staff Sgt. Dustin Adkins, also of the 72nd SFS, and their two sons, Keaton and Mason, the family attended their first retreat. Both sergeants recently returned from deployments.

"We're learning useful information about types of communication and how to say what we really want to say so it's not misinterpreted," Renee said. "Couples who don't think to come, should."

The conference center is 30 to 45 minutes from Tinker and can give families the feeling of being away, without having to drive a great distance. Additionally, the center offers several family-friendly amenities including a swimming pool and a gym.