What is it? Strong Bonds is a unit-based, chaplain-led program that helps Soldiers and their families build strong relationships. The program’s mission is to build Soldier readiness by providing skills the Soldier can use to strengthen his or her marriage and other relationships. It includes four sub-programs:
In order to maximize training effect, this relationship training is done in a retreat-like format, where Soldiers and Army family members can “get away” in order to focus on their important relationships.
What has the Army done? This program provided training to over 40,000 active and reserve component Soldiers to help build strong relationships among single Soldiers, couples, and family members.
What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? Continue to refine the training tools and make available to more Soldiers and family members. In 2007, this will include fielding a complete program aimed at enabling couples to stay close and reunite well after a deployment. Training in this program will include training prior to, during, and after return from combat deployments.
Why is this important to the Army? Healthy marriages contribute to a healthy Army, in turn securing the future force. With increasing demands placed on Army families and Soldiers, including frequent deployments and relocations, intimate relationships are tested and many marriages end in divorce. Research shows that training in communication, intimacy and conflict management increases marriage satisfaction and reduces rates of family violence.
In addition, about 30 percent of first-term Soldiers drop out of the Army. It is believed that this drop out rate could be significantly reduced if the Soldier had strong support from his or her family and loved ones. Frequent deployments and reunions present an even greater challenge to families who may or may not have the coping skills to address such stresses.