As Chief of Chaplains at the San Diego VA Healthcare System, Chaplain Dick Millspaugh provides supportive services for veteran families to help couples learn skills to overcome unique stressors of military service.
“Those in military service and returning Veterans face stressors not known to many couples.”
Relationship and marriage education touches the lives of families across the country. “I Am ME” profiles people teaching classes. We call this series “I Am ME,” both because “ME” is an acronym for “Marriage Education” and in honor of a poem by the same name written by the late Virginia Satir, a pioneer in the field of relationship and marriage education.
Chaplain Dick Millspaugh and Reverend Carol Millspaugh have been married 42 years. Dick grew up in Iowa and Carol grew up in Chicago and San Diego. They met in New York where they both attended Union Theological Seminary. They have two children, both in their 30’s. Their daughter works as a customer representative for a phone company in the Mid West; their son is a Unitarian Universalist pastor on the East Coast. Dick and Carol have been teaching PAIRS for Veterans and Active Duty military personnel and their spouses since 2010. Dick is Chief of Chaplains at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. Carol is a Volunteer for the VA. Both are United Methodist clergy.
1. What led you to want to teach marriage enrichment classes?
Dick was moved to offer PAIRS training when he viewed a video of couples who had completed a marriage enrichment weekend through the Charlie Norwood VA Chaplain Service in Augusta. The couples interviewed in that video were clearly helped by strengthening communication skills and learning about emotional intimacy.
2. What are some of the unique challenges facing military families?
Those in military service and returning Veterans face stressors not known to many couples. Separation, change in roles, the necessity of being emotionally distant to do difficult tasks, financial sacrifices, traumatic brain injuries, post traumatic stress disorder and injury, are among those challenges impinging on the marital relationship.
3. How has being an instructor affected your family?
Carol and I have enjoyed using several of the exercises from the PAIRS training. The Daily Temperature Reading (DTR) and Emotional Allergies have been very helpful. We find that the DTR provides a structured way to discuss issues that we might not otherwise get around to until they become more contentious than they need to be.
4. What are some favorite hobbies you enjoy as a family?
My wife and I enjoy walking the San Diego beaches, or any beach for that matter, collecting shells. Each morning we share a devotional time together. Putting together puzzles, reading together, or playing Scrabble are also activities we enjoy as well as traveling to new places.
5. What qualities would you like your family to most admire about you?
The qualities I would most like my family to admire about me are my desire to bring comfort, healing and joy into their lives, my ability to listen, and my commitment to be of service to others.
Chaplain Dick Millspaugh
VA San Diego Healthcare System
3350 La Jolla Village Drive
San Diego, CA 92161
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