My wife and I have been in Christian service for many years. We have helped thousands of people. We have been blessed with the happiness and fulfillment that comes from doing so. But the greatest joy that we have experienced is at our Military Marriage Retreats. (We like to call them Marriage ‘Advances.’) — Seeing these young couples who have endured such tremendous stress, and sacrificed so much reigniting their love and romance is something that fills our hearts with such joy everytime that our eyes overflow with tears!
I was asked by a radio station today to send them a few ‘talking points’ about what we might talk about in order for them to see if we would make a good interview for their program. — I have made this blog post from that email. I need more fresh content on HirePatriots to increase its searchability. But this might also result in a donation that will permit us to host another of these vitally important 3 day and 2 night events.
Marriage Retreat Talking Points:
1) Mark & Tori have been married for 23 years. They have been involved in Christian ministry for many years. They have been counselors at a Vietnam veteran sober living and rehabilitation facility and small group creators and leaders at Saddleback Church. — Mark has taken Pepperdine University’s Masters in Marriage & Family course. And he was a leader for Christian Marriage Encounter. – Mark & Tori have a book coming out in March: “An American Crisis: Veteran Unemployment.” And they are currently writing a book about marriage titled: “Become as Children.”
2) Mark & Tori are the founders of Patriotic Hearts, a 501c3 non-profit that provides numerous free programs for US veterans and their families. Their programs include a One Day job board for residents to hire local veterans for chores around their homes and yards: HirePatriots.com; and, they host 3 day marriage retreats for San Diego veterans. — They have held 8 Military Marriage Advances at the Marina Inn Suites in Oceanside Harbor, across the street from Camp Pendleton.
3) Mark and Tori have gone through some major ups and downs since beginning their ministry for veterans. — They were supporting themselves and their non-profit by holding military job fairs, when the economy turned upside down in late 2008. Companies immediately stopped coming to job fairs. Not long afterwards, Mark and Tori went homeless. They lived in a van on the streets for 2 years. But they still kept their non-profit and HirePatriots going. — This was a big test, personally and for their marriage. — But romance kept them together,. They decided that it was a “fun adventure.” They focused on the positives. And their marriage grew stronger than ever!
4) Military marriages face unique and difficult challenges that are not normally encountered by civilians. — Due to long absences and multiple combat deployments the wives on San Diego bases refer to the almost 90% divorce rate among the “Enlisted” ranks as “The Plague.”
5) Military members who have been in combat feel particularly hardened and are difficult to get to come to a retreat for help with their marriages. — We ask everyone for 3 positive conformations before they begin their retreat. And we make a call the evening before the retreat to get a final conformation. But the next day, only half of the veterans who confirmed actually show up.
6) When couples do show up, it is usually the wives who are open and vocalize their feelings first. They are angry! The veterans, on the other hand, are often like an emotionless block of ice. — It is challenge to get the couples in the right frame of mind sometimes for these retreats. And we have found a simple way to make that happen.
7) Because we only get half of the number expected, we were forced to turn our retreats into a small, peer group. — There was enough room for all of our couples to fit into our Master Suite. Many had to sit on the floor. — The crowded space forced the wives to sit in front of their husbands and to lean against their chests. The husbands responded by putting their arms around their wives. — It is like watching ice melt on a sunny day! Tears begin to flow.
8) We use Dr. Eggerich’s program: “Love & Respect.” This theme resonates with military personnel. — We watch several videos and then discuss them.
9) We contact local veteran groups, mostly retired people, to volunteer. — They bring food and sit and talk with the young troops. — And the older veterans and their wives talk about their marriages. — Sometimes we get WWII veterans who have married for more than 60 years!
10) For the conclusion of our retreats, we present each couple with a collage of pictures taken of them during the retreat. We frame the pictures. — In the middle of the frame, surrounded by all of the pictures is a big picture that we take of them cutting a wedding cake beneath a flowered bower with the ocean in the background. — On the back of that picture is Mark and Tori’s contact info. — Whenever these couple has a bad fight or difficulty, they are to take down the picture and call us.
11) We do everything we can to keep the costs down for these retreats. — When we first began, they cost us 12k. Now we have that down to 3k with the help of volunteers and discounted rates for other services.
12) If anyone is able to donate to make another retreat possible, go to HirePatriots.com and click the Donate button.
Mark & Tori Baird
CEO HirePatriots.com &
Patriotic Hearts 501 c3 non-profit
Past Chairmen: CA Economic Council
Past Secretaries: United Veteran Council
From President Bush: The Congressional Medal of Merit
From President Obama: President’s Volunteer Service Medal
From San Diego: The Visionary Award for Creating Economic Development
From the Chamber of Commerce: The Extra Mile Award
From ABC TV: The Leadership Award
From U.S. Veterans & Families: Liberty
From Jesus Christ: Purpose & Eternal Life