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'Long Knives' Strengthen Marriages After Deployment

'Long Knives' Strengthen Marriages After Deployment

Source: 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

Spc. Jonathan Pacheco, his wife Jennifer, and child Brook, relax at the Lakeway Resort and Spa, nestled in the heart of downtown Austin, courtesy of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division chaplain team. The brigade dedicated August 2009 as their redeployment-reintegration marriage retreat emphasis month.

By Sgt. 1st Class Damian Steptore, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas (Aug. 28, 2009) — When Capt. Alcario Serros returned from Iraq a few months ago, he was like many of the approximately 4,000 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, "Long Knife" troopers who really didn't know what to expect.

Serros, the 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Surgeon, had marital issues during the year-long deployment to southern Iraq, mainly due to the separation from his wife, Gina.

"I was having some emotional issues, I guess, at one time, so Chaplain Marshall (Special Troops Battalion Chaplain) recommended this marriage retreat while I was in Iraq," said Serros. "I thought it was a great idea, so I'm taking advantage of it now."

Serros, along with various Families throughout the Long Knife Brigade spent two nights and three days at the Lakeway Resort and Spa, nestled in the heart of downtown Austin, courtesy of the brigade's chaplain team.

"The month of August is our redeployment-reintegration marriage retreat emphasis month," said the 4th BCT Chaplain, Maj. Alva Bennett. "We're giving the couples a chance to re-assess their marriages after the deployment and re-think what they need to do to make it better."

The unit provided each Soldier the opportunity to stay at the luxurious five-star resort, consisting of two swimming pools, a work-out center, and free dining. The Families also received free onsite daycare for their small children while enjoying the facility.

The battalion-level chaplains provided training classes and guidance to the couples on subjects like communication, debt management, and conflict resolution, which many of the Families said was very beneficial.

"This gives us time to ourselves so we can talk," said Serros, after returning from a stroll around the lake with his wife. "We don't have to worry about our two kids, and I'm very pleased."

Gina Serros said, "It was pretty hard while he was away, but now I feel like this is a real vacation."

Many of the Long Knife couples weren't aware that their marriage needed evaluating.

"This has opened my eyes up to how he feels," said Michelle Mickles, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Brian Mickles, a platoon sergeant for 2nd Battalion, 7th Cav. Regt., 4th BCT 1st Cav. Div. "This time has helped us understand why we do certain things, and being here has helped us a lot and gave us a lot of information."

Nichols just returned from his fourth deployment to Iraq and added, "This is our first time coming here, and I would definitely recommend this retreat to another couple."

For More Information:

For more information on Strong Bonds, visit or talk with your unit or post chaplain.