ARLINGTON, Va (NNS) -- In a unique approach to assist sexual assault victims, the Navy Chief of Chaplains initiated a pilot for a personal resiliency retreat modeled after those offered by the Chaplains Religious Enrichment Development Operation (CREDO).
"In the last year, the Chaplain Corps designed a new retreat program for survivors of sexual assault. It's called 'Hope to Healing' (H2H)," said Rear Adm. Margaret Kibben, Chief of Chaplains.
CREDO, led by chaplains in 11 regions around the world, offers workshops, seminars and retreats to inspire hope and improve spiritual well-being among Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and their families as well as DOD civilians.
"The H2H retreat differs from a personal resilience retreat... we have a target of instilling hope and healing, where the emphasis is placed on hope," said Cmdr. Jennifer Bowden, Navy chaplain and CREDO director for Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.
The goal is to help sexual assault victims heal," said Capt. William Stallard who has a doctorate in psychology and helped design the H2H when he was a CREDO director. He is currently the Force Chaplain for Navy Region Southeast. "CREDO was the vehicle, and with collaboration from a team of chaplains, Fleet and Family Service Center, mental health care providers, and partnership with the Department of Navy Sexual Assault Prevention Office, the product evolved."
After facilitating three successful pilots, Bowden explained the difference that a 72-hour weekend retreat can make.
"Hope takes us out of our experience and on the path to healing," she said.
The program uses techniques such as counseling, prayer, and meditation as well as technology to help sexual assault survivors reduce the feeling of hopelessness.
"I highly encourage any survivor to consider attending simply because it gives you a sense that you're not alone," said Bowden.
Chaplains who facilitate the H2H observe the group dynamics, log direct feedback from the participants, and survey all survivors to assess the successes of the program and how to improve it.
"Each element of the retreat is evaluated... using a hope scale at the beginning and at the end. The result of the third retreat survey was 100 percent satisfaction, based on the Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE)," said Bowden.
On the last day of the third pilot retreat, a new exercise was added that validated the impact of H2H.
"I asked that all take a photo of the sunset from a different place, and later that evening I received a text and photo of a sunset from several participants saying, 'we were thinking about how powerful the retreat was to us and how much you helped us,'" said Bowden.
Sexual harassment and/or assault injure the humanity of both victim and offending perpetrator. As such, both victim and offender are offered the care of chaplains in the privacy of a confidential conversation.
For more information about the CREDO Hope to Healing retreat, call your unit chaplain or your region CREDO office.
For more news about CREDO retreats, visit the CREDO.
For news about the Navy Chaplain Corps visit the Chief of Chaplains Facebook Page.
For more news from Chaplain Corps, visit www.navy.mil/local/chaplaincorps/.