Married Special-Operations Troops Feel Strains of War
The top enlisted leader of America’s most elite and secretive military forces stood with his wife before a classroom of senior commandos here to speak about war’s destruction. Not on the battlefield — but within the walls of their home.
“We’re going to share some pretty ugly, personal stuff here today,” Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Faris, 50, warns an audience of 30 special ops veterans, nearly all married men.
“This is the way not to make a marriage work,” says Lisa Faris, 47, echoing her husband. “We succeeded in that. But let me tell you, there are ways to fix it if you try.”
For the next two hours and 16 minutes recently at the Joint Special Operations University, the room full of commandos was a rapt audience for Lisa and Chris — for years a member of the Army’s highly secretive Delta Force and recipient of seven Bronze Stars, including one for valor. They outlined the near-collapse of their 22-year relationship.
“My gut tells me that our story probably rang true for most everybody in this room,” Chris Faris says at the conclusion.
“The Chris and Lisa Show,” as he labels it with grim humor, is part of a broad initiative by Adm. William McRaven, commander of U.S.Special Operations Command, to deal with mounting emotional strain on his 66,000-member force. Indeed, the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have pushed many troops to their limits, with a spillover effect in military families that can test relationships and often end them. Even as the war in Afghanistan winds down, special operations troops — including Delta Force, Navy SEALs, Green Berets and Army Rangers— are expected to continue playing a crucial role, fighting at a high tempo.