Over the course of Andrew and Jessica Hoppe’s 13-year marriage, the couple has endured a demanding, fast-paced Special Operations Forces’ lifestyle that’s included numerous transfers and frequent separations due to Andrew’s many deployments and trainings. So, when all of the stars seemed to align for an escape to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, for an Operation Healing Forces retreat, they didn’t think twice.
“For the first time in our lives we were able to completely shut our brains down and just enjoy each other,” Jessica says, who devotes much of her time to keeping up with their active 12-year-old son Eli, a competitive hockey player.
Without the usual pressures of work, parenting, and household chores, the Hoppes spent quality time together scuba diving, surfing, exploring, and connecting with the other retreat couples.
“It was weird at halfway through the week to realize how much stress you’re normally under when you’re in an environment where there is no stress at all. That was probably the best part—just being able to truly relax,” Andrew says, who is with the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion and is preparing to deploy once again in February.