Chuck Wentzell, a longtime Special Operator with the Army, never expected to meet his spouse during a deployment. After joining the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Chuck deployed five times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Inherent Resolve. During one of those deployments in 2011, he connected with Christy, a police officer, via a friend’s online introduction. The couple married in 2013 and have three children together. Between the pace of SOF life and the demands of parenthood and work, they don’t often get the chance to connect with other SOF couples. When the couple was invited to attend the recent OHF retreat on Scrub Island, one of the British Virgin Islands, Christy was initially hesitant about the idea of spending so much time with the other retreat attendees. “At first I thought it might be more like a group therapy session, and that we’d be forced to ‘bond’ with other couples,” she says. “But I was really pleasantly surprised. We actually enjoyed every couple there and found ourselves wanting to build those relationships.”
While Chuck and Christy found plenty of time to connect as a couple, they also made time to build lasting friendships with their fellow retreat attendees. One of their favourite memories from the retreat is a group dinner and bonfire on the beach, Christy says. “The friendships never felt forced. We built these bonds
with the other couples because we shared so many similar life experiences.” Post-retreat, the couples remain in touch. “The wives have our own group text thread, and we can just joke and laugh together,” says Christy. “We can talk about stuff our husbands aren’t interested in!” For Chuck, the opportunity to attend an OHF retreat offered a chance to thank Christy for her steadfast support of his Special Operations work. “My military career has taken precedence over her career goals and aspirations. Since the beginning, she has given up so much to be with me and is the one who holds down the fort when I’m gone—and when I’m home too,” he says.
“I just truly want to express our deepest appreciation to the donors for this experience,” notes Christy. “With military life, we would never have had this type of opportunity to take this trip. To be able to experience Scrub Island was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something we will never forget.”Charles Wentzell