Spark* for Spouses eases couples' reunions
VICENZA, Italy — While thousands of soldiers coming back to this Army community go through their standard weeklong reintegration process after a year’s deployment to Afghanistan, the soldiers’ spouses are doing some reintegration of their own.
The local Morale, Welfare and Recreation office recently started Spark* for Spouses, a program of reintegration for those who will soon share their homes and lives again with someone who has been gone a long time.
“It’s not an acronym,” MWR action officer Jamie Zawadski said of the program. Spark* indicates the little touch of fire needed to rekindle a relationship after so much time apart, she said.
Participants are briefed on everything from broaching the subject of what happened downrange to intimacy issues and getting reacquainted with their husband or wife.
After a half-day session on all these points, spouses are treated to such things as hair styling, massages and cooking classes, Zawadski said.
The idea for a similar reintroduction for spouses came after a deployment to Iraq, she said.
“The spouses were just standing there, and we noticed very soon after ... that was not enough,” Zawadski said. “Both of them can reintegrate together.”
Financial advice is offered, and delicate subjects such as child and spousal abuse also are addressed, she said.
Both husband and wife need to know what happened during that missing year, said Ann Campbell, a marriage and family therapist who helps with the program.
“My statement to [spouses] is, ‘You don’t need the film at 11, but you probably need to know what your loved one was going through,’” Campbell said. “And they need to know what you were going through, like three kids barfing at 4 a.m.”
There is also a Spark* for Kids workshop that helps children understand their mom or dad coming back, with age-appropriate material, Zawadski said.
Day care is provided free for any spouses who want to take part in the sessions.
There also is talk of using the program as a model for other bases, she said.
“Giving a spouse chocolate and fluff is nice,” Zawadski said. “But we deserve more than that.”
To sign up for the Spark* program at Vicenza, call Army Community Service at 634-7500.