Strong Bonds Program
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 subprograms: a single-Soldier program to help warriors choose wisely and build lifelong relationships; a couple program; a family program, which trains couples with children to stay close and parent well; and a program specifically for couples preparing for, or returning from, deployment. In order to maximize the training effect, this relationship training is done in a retreat format, where Soldiers and Family members can “get away” in order to focus on their important relationships.
What has the Army done?
The Army has provided training to over 60,000 Soldiers from the active and reserve components to help build strong relationships among single Soldiers, couples, and Family members.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army will continue to refine the training tools and make them available to more Soldiers and Family members. In 2008 this will include fielding a complete program to enable the Families of deployed Soldiers to thrive while enduring the stresses of deployment. This program will nest with the Strong Bonds program to create a complete package that provides relationship-sustainment training before, during, and after the return from combat deployment.
Why is this important to the Army?
Healthy marriages contribute to the maintenance of a healthy Army and a secure 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. Data suggest that this dropout rate is significantly reduced when the Soldier has strong support from his or her Family and loved ones. Strong Bonds helps build Family support for Soldiers