Episode #3

Noel & Keni chat with “Super Ranger” Jeff, who fought alongside Keni in Somalia before becoming an Army Chaplain and then a Pastor. He’s been there, and he’s helped couples who have been there. How do couples build a stronger relationship after tough battles change them?

Stronger Families Podcast
Episode: Ep 3 Interview with Jeff Stuecker

Welcome to the Stronger Families Podcast, a space where we celebrate the heroes at home through candid conversations on the topics not glorified in the media. Host and CEO of Stronger Families, Noel Meador, introduces the second episode alongside co-host Keni Thomas. Today’s guest is Jeff, who is the epitome of the message behind Stronger Families. Jeff was a super soldier within the ranger regiment and attended seminary after his release and reentered the ranger regiment as a chaplain. He possesses a crazy, one of a kind perspective on what it takes to be a soldier and lead people in the best and worst of conditions. Additionally, he knows what it means to be in the thick of it and what people go through after it all.

As the conversation gets started, Noel introduces Jeff and asks him to elaborate on the challenges he faced after returning home. He spent nearly every moment of his military career either deployed or with families that have gone through deployment. Jeff and Keni served together in the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. While deployed in Somalia, Jeff received a letter from his wife of three years notifying him she was pregnant with their first child. This totally changed his perspective on life and weighed heavy on his shoulders.

Jeff shares that many people don’t understand the brotherhood which comes along with military service. For Jeff, this brotherhood served as his major motivating factor behind remaining in the service, even while he was certain he wouldn’t make it out alive. In line with the promise he made to his brothers, Jeff has raised his own kids to keep their word no matter what. In his relationship with his wife, there are many things about his duties that Jeff can’t share with her. There was no doubt a major change in Jeff when he returned from Somalia, and he realizes now that there is no going back to the carefree guy he was before. He tries to help other military families understand that war changes people for good.

To the couples out there who have experienced what Jeff and Keni have walked through, Jeff stresses that it takes two people to pull off a marriage. The families of soldiers have as much involvement in the mission as the soldier himself. Though you will be different after combat, different doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It takes time and work to forge a new future, but the work is 100% worth it. When couples enter Stronger Families counseling, it is required that they are both completely ready and committed to working together.

Just because you came back from combat doesn’t mean you are fully at home emotionally and psychologically. Sometimes you need some help to fully return home to your family. This process can take weeks, months, or even years. Jeff’s number one piece of advice for military couples who want to make it work is to find another couple who are making it work, and follow their guide.

As the episode wraps up, Jeff elaborates on the role faith has played throughout his life. Without his faith, Jeff believes he wouldn’t be married or be at all the man he is today. It is not something he brings into what he does, but is rather the essence of everything he does.

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Timestamps:

0:44 – Noel and Keni discuss their own strong families
4:16 – Introducing Jeff
7:27 – Jeff’s experience returning home after serving
8:30 – The life changing news Jeff received during the Battle of Mogadishu
10:35 – Jeff elaborates on the “why” he chose to serve
12:30 – Jeff’s dynamic with his wife after returning home
16:40 – What helped Jeff and his wife get through these transitions?
19:25 – Jeff’s advice for families struggling after combat.
25:17 – Practical tips for military spouses
33:14 – The element of faith throughout Jeff’s life experiences
37:27 – Wrap up of today’s episode

Links:
Check out the Stronger Families’ website.