Marriage Education (ME) is touching the lives of couples, families and children across the country. “I Am ME” profiles people teaching relationship and marriage education classes in their local communities.
“After witnessing the impact of the program, I knew I could give couples tools to know and understand each other in ways that would be life-changing and relationship-saving.”
Ed Waldrop is a VA Chaplain serving at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia. He has served as a VA Chaplain for nearly eight years, the first five at the Eastern Colorado Health Care System in Denver. Chaplain Waldrop was enlisted in the Air Force for nearly nine years in the 1980s. A “military brat,” Chaplain Waldrop was raised mostly in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, a community he continues to call home. Chaplain Waldrop was one of the original members of the team at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center to introduce the PAIRS curriculum to veterans and active duty military service members. He continues to actively deliver marriage enrichment retreats as part of a partnership that was recognized by the Veteran’s Administration in 2009 as ‘Best Practice in Marriage Enrichment.’ Chaplain Waldrop has two teenage children.
1. What led you to want to teach marriage enrichment retreats?
You don’t have to look far to see the many challenges families face in our culture. From infidelity, financial hardships, medical issues to everyday living, relationships are challenged time and again. Often, those challenges are rooted in life experiences that took place long before we ever met the person with whom we are in a relationship. For the VA community, add the particular context of military deployments and war, and the challenges are even greater. Once I witnessed the communication, emotional literacy, and conflict resolution skills taught in the PAIRS curriculum, I knew I could give couples (and, therefore, families) tools to know and understand each other in ways that would be life-changing and relationship-saving.
2. How are the challenges facing couples different today?
I’m not sure the differences are that great in terms of basic challenges of living an adult life in this crazy world! For example, two-income households have been the norm for quite awhile. The level of dependency on debt and resources stretched by a stagnant economy are a part of everyday life now as they were when I was growing up. Those are two big challenges couples so often face. With that in mind—knowing that life will always present lots of challenges—it really becomes a question of how do we treat one another in our relationships so that we can overcome whatever challenges appear. What couples need now was also needed when I was young—practical skills to facilitate good, healthy relating with one another and a level of understanding (and willingness to apply) those skills. The PAIRS curriculum offers precisely that and through our marriage retreats we have seen amazing and powerful changes time and time again.
3. How has being an instructor affected your own life?
The first time I witnessed PAIRS Essentials being taught to couples (combat veterans and their spouses) I saw the phenomenal transformation in their relationships. In that brief time I realized that I NEEDED to learn these tools and to teach them. Each time I finish a retreat and listen to the powerful feedback from our couples, I grow just a little bit more in my own life. Although I am divorced, I benefit from these skills in other relationships in my life.
4. What are some of your favorite hobbies as a family?
We love to do anything outdoors. I am legally blind due to loss of visual field so we can’t do a lot of sports together, but we support one another in the sports and endeavors each is involved in. Most of the time we just chill, spending quality time and sharing our love and support for one another.
5. What three qualities would you like loved ones to most admire in you?
My sense of compassion, my determination to overcome any obstacles in my path, and the way I live out my faith to my God.
Chaplain Ed Waldrop
Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center
1 Freedom Way
Augusta, GA 30904-6285
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