Hurting Military Marriages Find Healing in God’s Love

June 25, 2019 • United States
Chad and Ellen Peacock grew closer to God and to each other in Alaska.

Wounded Veterans and Their Spouses Experience Physical and Spiritual Renewal in Alaska through Operation Heal Patriots.

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Chad Peacock rededicated his life to God and was baptized during Week Four of Operation Heal Our Patriots.

Chad and Ellen Peacock were childhood sweethearts—growing up with close families and annual beach vacations together. The summer that Chad was set to leave for Marine boot camp, he asked Ellen to wait for him, planning to marry her when he returned.

The couple wrote 277 letters back and forth while Chad was away and were married soon after his return. However, the childhood sweethearts’ relationship quickly turned sour when Chad was deployed only a month into their marriage.

Chad returned home with physical and emotional wounds. Four deployments and nine and a half years in the U.S. Marine Corps left him with a traumatic brain injury, severe PTSD, and anger issues. He struggled with how to cope with what he had seen—losing many of his best friends in combat or to suicide.

“I went to some dark places; I went through a slump. I went far away, went astray like a boat lost on the ocean from a lighthouse,” Chad said.

Franklin Graham prays for Chad and Ellen after their baptism.

Looking for a way to numb the pain, Chad became an alcoholic and his anger issues worsened. He began to take out his frustration on Ellen and their marriage quickly deteriorated.

“What hurt me the most was seeing how nice and friendly and funny he was with other people, but so hateful to me,” Ellen said. “The resentment grew over the years, and I pretty much cut myself off from any type of emotional relationship with him to avoid getting hurt, which made him even angrier.”

The couple had hit rock bottom and prepared to give up when a friend and past Operation Heal Our Patriots participant reached out to see if they would be interested in the program. The friend shared how our Christ-centered marriage enrichment training affected her own marriage, which helped Ellen make the decision to submit an application—never believing she and Chad would be chosen. When they got the phone call, they were both ecstatic.

Couples enjoy outdoor activities such as fly fishing.

Even so, the couple barely made it to Alaska. “We weren’t at a good spot in our marriage. Even leading up to here we thought, ‘Should we throw the towel in? Let another couple go? We don’t deserve this. Someone else can go and fix their marriage,’” Chad said.

They argued the entire way from their home in Georgia, ready to quit their journey to Alaska and their journey together. “We were on our layover in Seattle, we were halfway here, and he was getting on a plane going home. He didn’t want to come,” Ellen added. “We could hardly make it here. We didn’t know how badly we needed this.”

As the couple spent the week attending Biblically-based marriage classes, participating in nature excursions, and spending time with our chaplains, their hearts began to soften towards each other and towards the Lord. Gradually, they begin to see that Jesus Christ was the foundation their lives needed.

The Peacocks learn how to kayak on the beautiful waters of Lake Clark.

Filled with an overwhelming sense of new hope and peace, Ellen gave her life to Christ and Chad rededicated himself to serving the Lord. Together, they made a public declaration of faith through baptism and recommitted their marriage to each other and to God.

“It feels like a brand-new light bulb is on inside of me, shining, and it feels good. It feels amazing; I don’t know how to describe it,” Chad said.

As they return home, they plan to connect to a local church and incorporate their new faith into their family. “Doing this together is amazing—I want to be that rock for my family, that leader, and that shepherd to lead them to Jesus Christ,” Chad said. “I’m excited to leave, to go home with her, to use these tools and raise my daughters the right way.”

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

JP Lane served as a combat engineer for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan doing route clearance and searching for improvised explosive devices (IED). His platoon was blown up on three separate occasions and on July 2, 2011, an IED penetrated their RG-31 truck—placing JP in a six-week coma and ending his military career.

JP and Crystal Lane believe Operation Heal Our Patriots was a divine appointment.

He woke up to find that he had lost both of his legs, broken his right arm and pelvis, dislocated his spine, had a torso filled with shrapnel, as well as a traumatic brain injury.

“At the very beginning I had thoughts of suicide. I struggled to even want to look at myself in the mirror,” JP said. “I had a lot of anger issues because my best friend was shot and killed by a sniper while we were on mission and then I lost my legs. That was just two of the ugliest things that could have happened while we were deployed—it was really tough for a long time.”

With no strength of his own to keep him going, JP turned to the Lord for his strength. “It helped having my family’s support there but most importantly I started relying on my faith and on God and started giving Him my life a lot more and handing Him the tough stuff so I wouldn’t have to deal with it,” JP said.

JP lost both his legs when an IED penetrated their RG-31 truck in Afghanistan.

Music also became a coping mechanism for him and, ultimately, saved his life. “I was driving around and said, ‘God if you don’t give me something to do here, I’m going to end it. I’m done,’” JP said.

God spoke to him through a song on the radio—“Only a Mountain,” by Jason Castro—and JP understood that his situation was a mountain that God could handle: “We are going to get past this, and we are going to be able to move on stronger than before.” JP posted his version of the song on YouTube and his career took off.

It was in the midst of his success as a musician and motivational speaker when JP met his wife Crystal. She quit her job to help JP share his testimony. “I just had a passion for my husband. I just knew that this story would inspire millions. So, I was on a mission with him,” Crystal said.

But, time on the road began tearing them apart. They were ready to file for divorce. “We inspire everybody for a living, but we didn’t have anything left to inspire each other,” Crystal said. Desperate, she searched for ‘veteran marriage counseling’ online and found Operation Heal Our Patriots and applied earlier this year—a “divine appointment,” she says.

The Lanes practice their strokes before hitting the water to kayak.

The couple reconnected and focused on each other in Alaska, working with chaplains and alongside eight other couples to gain the tools that they need to rebuild their marriage.

JP also realized that his Army motto can apply to more than just his career and injuries. “The military taught me something that never escaped my mind or my soul and that is to never give up and never surrender. Every day that’s what kept me going,” JP said.

“I would let my motto apply to everything else in my life, except my marriage. I would give up easily because I’m just tired of it. I was tired of the way I looked in the mirror and just being an amputee but yet I kept fighting. Our marriage is a part of my life and I need to fight for that.”

The couple thanks the Lord for leading them to Operation Heal Our Patriots when they needed it the most, and pray that other veterans and their spouses will participate. “This program means everything to me because it is saving our marriage. We came in here with very little hope left,” Crystal said. “It changed our mindset, it changed our love for each other, it changed the level of faith we have now. This program will continue to change lives.”

We praise God for the couples who have already this season made decisions for Jesus Christ. Please continue to pray for God to work in the hearts of all the military couples who come to Alaska.

Please continue to pray for God to move in the hearts of wounded veterans and their spouses as they come to Alaska this summer for marriage enrichment. For more on the 2019 season, see this year’s Operation Heal Our Patriots landing page.

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Bless the Marriage of a Military Couple Operation Heal Our Patriots helps military couples build a strong spiritual foundation during a week of Biblically based workshops, relationship-building wilderness activities, and individual care by our retired military chaplains. We offer all this free of charge to these American heroes as a token of our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. Your gift will help us cover the costs—including transportation, lodging, activities, and long-term aftercare—so that we can help them find hope in the Lord.

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