TORII STATION, Okinawa – An Okinawa Army program provides stress management, marriage counseling and financial education to Okinawa military personnel, Department of Defense civilians and their families.
Wellness Wednesday is about personal growth through holistic education, according to founder, Chaplain (Maj.) Cornelius Muasa, who oversees the curriculum with the help of volunteers at Torii Station Chapel.
Okinawa is home to thousands of US troops, many fresh out of high school and some newlyweds. For some, Okinawa is a new beginning for relationships and responsibility.
“I see a lot of soldiers who have never had a lot of money, then suddenly do it but don’t budget and get into bad spending habits early on,” Muasa told Stars and Stripes Sept. 30.
Nearly half, or 48%, of active-duty families said their financial situation causes them “some stress” or “a lot of stress,” according to a 2021 survey by Blue Star Families, an advocacy organization Pockets and credit card and student loan debt are some of the issues military families cite as financial stressors.
“One of the big problems we see is finances, where families fall into debt too early, which puts them in trouble,” Muasa said. “Even for a single person, they struggle to make debt commitments, but I want to make sure they develop healthy money habits.”
The finance curriculum begins each Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in the chapel with video lessons from finance expert Dave Ramsey, followed by an in-person discussion led by Chaplain (Capt.) Doyle Harris of the 78th Signals Battalion.
According to Muasa, the curriculum teaches personal financial management, wealth building, and strategies for becoming debt-free. He said the program is about solving financial problems as much as it is about building wealth.
Torii Station Chapel sponsors the program, but adherence to a particular belief is not required to participate, Muasa said.
Another non-denominational workshop, Life in Balance, focuses on stress management every Wednesday at 11:46 am and is taught by Madlena Maximova, a military and family counselor at Torii Station.
Wednesday Wellness, which began this month and ends December 14, is open to all service members, DOD civilians, retirees and their families and offers on-site child care.
As part of the program, Muasa’s wife, Lauren Muinde, and Army wife, Sora Kunsman, will lead the Women of Worship Bible study and Chaplain (Capt.) Daniel Powers of the 78th Signal Battalion will lead the Warriors of Worship Bible study.
“A woman as a spouse or soldier may have different needs than a male spouse or soldier,” Muasa said of the groups, which meet every Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. “Gender specific Bible study groups are for relationship building.”
A wife who attended women’s group and couples counseling with her husband said it was an opportunity for them to study together.
“I think it showed us how to see each other better and how to communicate with each other, so I think at least it helped us to try different methods to develop our relationship in a better and healthier way,” said Miae Kim, 41 Stars and Stripes by phone Friday.
Muasa says he teaches communication and relationship growth through understanding gender and personalities within marriage.
Kim has attended several Wellness on Wednesday events with her active-duty husband. The couple has been married for 14 years, has two sons and has lived in Okinawa for two years.
“It’s actually beneficial for any marriage no matter how many years they’ve been together, but I think newlywed couples should use this type of program to have a good reputation early in their relationship and be able to understanding each other’s side and how to approach your spouse,” she said.
According to Muasa, personal growth is the key to success.
“We have to take care of ourselves; we cannot pour out an empty cup on others. A person is fully successful when they bear fruit and contribute to the lives of other people,” he said.
Those interested in the program can contact Muasa at 315-652-4454, 080-1544-4497 or [email protected] for more information.