Operation Heal Our Patriots: Martin and Caroline

Martin and Caroline attended Operation Heal Our Patriots and found hope and healing for their marriage.

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Martin Tremblay is a retired Canadian Forces army sergeant whose peace-keeping and other deployments in the 1990s to Cyprus, Bosnia, Croatia, and Haiti included several traumatic events and injuries. They resulted in him eventually being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Martin’s already challenging life became much more so in 2007 when he was hit by a car while bicycling. He suffered several broken bones that have left him with chronic pain in his back, neck, and arm, plus a traumatic brain injury that has cost him 10 years of his memory, reactivated his PTSD symptoms, impacted his balance, and altered his personality, including difficulties in controlling his temper.

His disabilities meant Martin has struggled to execute basic household tasks. But he refused to reveal his confusion to Caroline, which left her wondering why she had to shoulder most of the family workload.

“It was creating a lot of frustration, but all of this was being kept inside,” the 46-year-old said. “I didn’t want to let her know that this (brain injury) was causing difficulties for me, that everything was so (cognitively) hard. So I kept this in for a long time, all the way to the point where there was an explosion, an acting-out kind of thing. I did not trust her enough to let her in on my weakness.”

Martin says it took Operation Heal Our Patriots—a Samaritan’s Purse ministry offering wounded military veterans and their spouses a week of recreation and marriage workshops at a scenic Alaskan lodge—for him to realize how much he was hurting Caroline, 38, and their two children.

Click here to learn more about Operation Heal Our Patriots

Their workshop leader was a retired U.S. military chaplain who understands how much harm a soldier’s wounds can inflict on his marriage. He told Martin, Caroline, and nine other Canadian Armed Forces couples that a genuine effort to change behavior must start with a genuine apology for past harm. Immediately after the workshop, Martin wrote a heartfelt letter to Caroline, seeking her forgiveness.

“I cried,” Caroline said, moments after reading Martin’s letter. “I said it (forgiveness) was a given.”

"I’m so grateful and humbled by this (Operation Heal Our Patriots).

Caroline and Martin wanted to participate in the Operation Heal Our Patriots ministry because, in her words, “we saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to gain confidence in our marriage and move forward. My goal was to reconnect with him, because we kind of lost that in the last eight years . . . it was a pretty lonely place.”

Reconnect they did, not only during the marriage enrichment workshops but during guided hikes, fishing expeditions, a float-plane flight to observe grizzly bears, and time in their own little Alaskan cabin.

“I’m so grateful and humbled by this (Operation Heal Our Patriots),” Caroline said. “It’s a stepping stone. It’s going to change a lot of things for the better. I just can’t wait to go back home and share with our kids what an incredible experience it’s been.”

“It’s very positive,” added Martin. We’ve had a lot of time (at Samaritan Lodge) to think and to reflect outside of the regular speed of life.”

They both expressed appreciation for the fact Operation Heal Our Patriots is a ministry offering marriage advice from a Christian perspective.

“After the accident, it took a lot of faith in Christ to remain together," Caroline said. “Without Him, we wouldn’t be together now. The past eight years have been a rollercoaster for us. This week (in Alaska) is a reminder of the importance of praying together and looking at God in our lives. It’s about feeling Him and knowing He’s there.”

Ways you can help

Pray

Prayer is the most important gift you can give. Please keep these specific requests in your prayers: Ask God to protect our military personnel serving overseas. Pray for those service members who have been injured or wounded. Pray for the ministry of Operation Heal Our Patriots.

Give

You can help bring a military couple to Samaritan Lodge Alaska for a life-changing retreat they desperately need and provide ongoing follow-up care for years to come. Your gift helps provide these husbands and wives the spiritual refreshment, physical renewal, and marriage enrichment they critically need. Donate Here

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