OKUMA RECREATION FACILITY, Okinawa Japan- Two of the Army's top priorities are mission accomplishment and taking care of its soldiers, family members and DA civilians. With the Strong Bonds program being severely limited due to sequestration the 10th Regional Support Group Unit Ministry Team found a way to take one day to "Sharpen the Saw" for 11 Single Soldiers on July 17th at Okuma Recreation Facility, Okinawa, Japan for under $200.

Staff Sgt. Carlos A. Pagan, the Senior Chaplain's Assistant for the Army on Okinawa at the 10th RSG, has seen the positive impact the Strong Bond Program has on soldiers and wanted to hold a similar event because four months ago the funding for the program was limited due to sequestration.

According to strongbonds.org, the program is a unit-based, chaplain-led program which assists commanders in building individual resiliency by strengthening the Army Family. The core mission of the Strong Bonds program is to increase individual soldier and family member readiness through relationship education and skills training.

Strong Bonds is conducted in an offsite retreat format in order to maximize the training effect. The retreat or "get away" provides a fun, safe, and secure environment in which to address the impact of relocations, deployments, and military lifestyle stressors. This program receives positive accolades by all in attendance but typically comes with a high cost due to lodging, transportation and food. The 10th RSG UMT budget under this program last year was $750,000, but it no longer have these funds due to sequestration.

"In this current environment of sequestration, we have limited funds to make things happen and bring quality religious support and training to the soldiers. So what we have to do is use troop ministry funds," said Pagan.

"The intent of the UMT Single Solider Training Event is to give them good life habits that can be utilized as tools for resiliency while they serve here. It is a good chance for them to recharge their batteries away from the flag pole," said Pagan.

This training event focused on the book "The Seven Habits for Highly Effective People for Soldiers" by Steven Covey. This is a business and self-help series written to help individuals identify their values, purpose in order to help them leave a positive mark on the world.

Spec. Jace D. Boykin, a military policeman with the 247th Military Police Detachment said this about the training event, "For one, everyone gets out of work so you get to relax more and not worry about work. You get to meet new people and we got farther away from work so it was easier to relax and get in that comfort zone. I wouldn't say I learned anything new, but it brought more stuff to light that I need to change about myself so it (the training) was definitely good," said Boykin.

After the classes soldiers were provided lunch and given free time in which they were able to take advantage of all that Okuma Recreation Facility had to offer. This included snorkeling, kayaking, jet skiing and tubing to name a few activities.

Spec. Sergio H. Garcia, a military policeman with the 247th Military Police Detachment summed up the training event when he said, "I had a lot of favorite things about the day, bonding with new people, water sports, all and all it was a really good morale booster. I learned how to be a better person and how to live life better."

Page last updated Thu July 18th, 2013 at 22:04