By: Lance Cpl. Scott W. Whiting
Patrons packed the Russell Marine and Family Center aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Dec. 11 to hear two highly-decorated retired service members talk about the importance of family and maintaining a solid relationship in a military marriage.
Retired Maj. Gen. James Livingston and retired Army Maj. Drew Dix are Medal of Honor recipients due to their heroic actions on the battlefield during the Vietnam conflict, and now they continue to give back to the military by speaking on important issues.
The two spent Dec. 11 and 12 visiting different battalions aboard MCB Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, and giving words of encouragement to the Marines and sailors. They also hosted a forum aimed at military spouses, which dozens of families attended.
The Medal of Honor recipients shared their stories, explaining they had issues within their own marriages, and it’s normal to have rough spots. They encouraged the families and highlighted the importance the role spouses play while a service member is deployed.
“The service and sacrifice you make as spouses is just as important as the service and sacrifice of those in uniform,” said Livingston while addressing the crowd.
Dix speculated there may be shorter, but more frequent deployments in the future. He said in that case, it’s important for the spouses back home to encourage each other.
“People are more spread out now,” said Dix. “When I was still serving, many of the wives lived close together either on base, or right outside the gate. It’s not the case now, but it’s still important to surround yourself with people who know the challenge of not having a spouse home.”
The two took time to answer questions patrons had after they spoke. Question topics ranged from post-traumatic stress disorder to helping service members re-adapt to life after deployment.
“You have to learn to love under difficult situations,” said Livingston. “People don’t return from deployment the same as before.”
Livingston also said the change isn’t always a negative change, but learning to adapt to these changes saves many relationships.
“Marriages have ups and downs,” said Dix. “Take advantage of those highs and work on those lows.”
When Livingston and Dix finished answering questions, Tad Snidecor, a representative from the Marine Corps DSTRESS helpline addressed the crowd.
He explained the DSTRESS helpline provides service members and military family members with counseling either online or over the phone with any issue they may face.
“DSTRESS can help Marines and their families by allowing them to talk through their problems,” said Snidecor. “We want to keep couples together. We offer a different avenue of approach for Marines and spouses.”
He said anyone can call the line for any concern. There are Marines, corpsmen and retirees on call 24/7 to help anyone who calls. Callers can choose to disclose their name and number, or they can remain anonymous.
The successful night ended with an ovation for the two distinguished retirees and people left with valuable information which can be applied to everyday life.