The 2020 Operation Healing Forces retreat in the Dominican Republic came at the perfect time for Jordan and Sasha Ailie. After 13 years with Marines and Navy Special Operations Forces, Jordan was recovering from neck surgery and transitioning to civilian life. The family had just moved from Virginia Beach to San Diego to start a new chapter with their two young children in tow. “I was just coming off active duty and moving across the country. We moved ourselves with a six-month-old,” says Jordan. “Needless to say, we weren’t getting any sleep.”
The tropical town of Punta Cana provided a restorative, therapeutic backdrop for the retreat. The couple perused a local bazaar, took surfing lessons, explored local reefs with a SCUBA dive instructor, enjoyed a couple’s massage, and got to know their fellow retreat participants.
Connecting with other SOF couples across the military career spectrum offered the ideal transition to a new life stage, says Jordan. “It was a great battery recharge, and it gave us the chance to meet other couples at different stages of military and family life.”
Surfing together was a trip highlight for Jordan, who was interested in learning but never had the time during his military career. Post-retreat, OHF program manager and retreat lead Rob Kilmartin helped Jordan connect to a local surf instructor in San Diego to keep his momentum going.
Experiences like this one give military couples “a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Jordan. “Having something like this to look forward to is incredible, especially in a year like 2020 with all of its challenges and uncertainties. Now that we know about OHF, we look forward to sharing it with other couples and giving back to support the cause.”