Army chaplain provides workshops on financial literacy, stronger marriages on Okinawa
Stars and Stripes October 18, 2022
TORII STATION, Okinawa — An Army program on Okinawa is providing stress management, marriage counseling and financial literacy to military members, Defense Department civilians and their families on Okinawa.
Wellness on Wednesday is about personal growth through holistic education, according to its founder, Chaplain (Maj.) Cornelius Muasa, who oversees the curriculum with help from volunteers at Torii Station Chapel.
Okinawa hosts thousands of U.S. troops, many fresh out of high school and some newly married. For some, Okinawa is a new beginning for relationships and responsibilities.
“I see a lot of soldiers who have never had much money, then suddenly do, but do not budget and get into bad spending habits early,” Muasa told Stars and Stripes on Sept. 30.
Nearly half, or 48%, of active-duty families reported that their financial situation causes them “some stress” or a “great deal of stress,” according to a 2021 survey by Blue Star Families, an advocacy organization. Spouse unemployment, out-of-pocket moving costs and credit card and student loan debt are some issues military families cite as financial stressors.
“One of the big issues that we see is finances whereby families are getting hooked into debt too early and that is causing them to struggle,” Muasa said. “Even for a single person, they are struggling to make debt commitments, but I want to make sure they are establishing healthy money habits.”
The financial curriculum begins at 10:30 a.m. each Wednesday at the chapel with video lessons taught by financial expert Dave Ramsey, followed by an in-person discussion led by Chaplain (Capt.) Doyle Harris of the 78th Signal Battalion.
The curriculum teaches personal finance management, wealth building and strategies to become debt free, according to Muasa. He said the program is about getting ahead of financial problems as much as it is building wealth.
The Torii Station Chapel sponsors the program but adherence to a particular faith is not required for attendance, Muasa said.
Another nondenominational workshop, Life in Balance, addresses stress management beginning at 11:46 a.m. each Wednesday and is taught by Madlena Maximova, a military and family life counselor at Torii Station.
Wellness on Wednesday, which began this month and ends Dec. 14, is open to all service members, DOD civilians, retirees and their families and provides onsite child care.
As part of the program, Muasa’s wife, Lauren Muinde, and Army spouse Sora Kunsman lead the Women of Worship Bible study and Chaplain (Capt.) Daniel Powers, of the 78th Signal Battalion, leads the Warriors of Worship Bible study.
“A female may have different needs as a spouse or soldier than a male spouse or soldier,” Muasa said of the groups, which meet at 11:45 a.m. each Wednesday. “Gender-specific Bible study groups is for building relationships.”
One spouse who participated in the women’s group and in couples counseling with her husband says it was an opportunity for them to learn together.
“I think it taught a better way to see each other and how we can communicate to one another, so I think at least it helped us to try different methods in terms of developing our relationship better, healthier,” Miae Kim, 41, told Stars and Stripes by phone Friday.
Muasa says he teaches communication and relationship growth through understanding genders and personalities within the marriage.
Kim has attended several Wellness on Wednesday events with her active-duty Army husband. The couple have been married for 14 years, have two boys, and have lived in Okinawa for two years.
“It's actually beneficial to any marriage regardless how many years that they've been together, but I think newly married couples should be taking advantage of this kind of program to have a good standing at the beginning of their relationship and being able to understand each side and how to approach their spouse,” she said.
Personal growth is key to thriving, according to Muasa.
“We must take care of ourselves; we cannot pour into others from an empty cup A person is fully successful when they are bearing fruit and contributing to other people's lives,” he said.
Those interested in the program can contact Muasa at 315-652-4454, 080-1544-4497 or email@example.com for more information.