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Coin, Covenant stengthens soldiers' marriages
arrmy chaplains -coin and covenant couples
Maj. Jeff Allen, public affairs officer with the 3rd ID, and his wife Katie are one of many couples participating in the Coin and Covenant program at Fort Stewart. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
The prayer on each Mizpah coin given to couples who participate in the faith-based Coin and Covenant program at Fort Stewart reads, “The Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from another.” (Genesis 31:49)
Mizpah, the Hebrew word for watchtower, refers to a passage in the Bible when Jacob and his father-in-law Laban agreed to a God-sent peace with each other. They met in Gilead and built a stone memorial, or mizpah, there as a reminder of the commitment they made.
The Mizpah prayer today is most often recited when asking God to watch over two individuals during a long and difficult separation, such as when married couples experience a military deployment.
This is where the coin part of the Coin and Covenant program for Fort Stewart couples comes in — the Mizpah coin is split down the middle, with each half connected to a chain making two separate pendants. A husband wears one half, his wife the other while they are apart from one another. It is an intimate reminder worn close to the heart of the couple’s love and commitment, as well as a vow to remain faithful.
The covenant part of the program is meant to keep couples connected and committed to each other, which in turn benefits the soldier, the spouse, the family and the military, say Army chaplains who facilitate the program.
Army chaplains held a Coin and Covenant ceremony from 11:45 to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Main Chapel on post for about 45 couples. These ceremonies are often planned ahead of deployments, they said.
“The program helps to encourage them to use the deployment in a positive way,” said Army Chap. Maj. Mike Reeves.
Reeves, a family life chaplain who will remain on rear detachment during the 3rd Division’s upcoming deployment, will lead Coin and Covenant events each month for the spouses waiting for their soldiers’ return.
Soldiers enrolled in the program also will participate in Coin and Covenant events while deployed, he said.
The program’s mission statement confirms that married couples and families connected to the military are put under “great stress” during deployments.
“A strong family makes a strong army,” the mission statement reads.
The mission of the covenant program is to help married couples improve and strengthen themselves and their marriages.
Reeves said chaplains will hold workshops, both on the home front and in the field, for soldiers and their spouses, so that while apart they are still connected by experiencing similar activities through the Coin and Covenant program.
“We have a theme each month,” he said.
Some of the themes include support systems, respect, communication, shared values, forgiveness, appreciation, problem solving and fun and passion.
Maj. Jeff Allen, public affairs officer with the 3rd ID, and his wife Katie are participating in the program for the second time in their 18-year marriage.
“I want to ensure we have another 18 and another 18 and another 18,” Allen said. “(The program) is a reminder of our commitment to each other. I don’t want to take our relationship for granted. This is something we can take time out to do.”
Allen compared marriage to an automobile; they both need constant and consistent maintenance in order to remain in good condition, he said.
“Even though we’ve been married 18 years, deployments aren’t a routine way of life for most people,” Katie Allen said. “I thought it was important for us to do this again. It’s also a good memory (the ceremony) to have while he’s gone.”
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