FORT DRUM, N.Y. - It has been said many times that the Army cares about Soldiers' and Families' well-being, and there are several programs that attempt to enrich military life through education and introspection.

One such program is Strong Bonds, a course designed to promote relationship skills for couples and single Soldiers. Strong Bonds is a unit-based program, with each unit's chaplain responsible for leading it.

"The point of this program is to enhance Soldier and Family resilience and strength, to equip them with tools to build better relationships," said Maj. William Scritchfield, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade chaplain.

Strong Bonds isn't just about married couples, though.

"There are courses and retreats for couples and singles," Scritchfield added. "While the course for married couples focuses on communication and understanding the other's perspective, the singles course offers Soldiers ways to develop solid relationships."

The singles course works by helping individuals discern personality types and how to effectively communicate with the different types, said Staff Sgt. Eric Livingston, 10th CAB chaplain's assistant.

"The program works to develop intrapersonal skills," Scritchfield said.

While the Strong Bonds program is ran by unit chaplains, it is not religious.

"We teach people how to communicate with each other," Scritchfield said. "There is no pulpit. We approach from the avenue of what best serves each other."

Classes are taught through a variety of mediums, including videos, workshops, exercises and classes. Unit chaplains are on hand to guide the group through the training and offer their insights.
"It's a well-structured program," Livingston said, "and it benefits the units."

Each course is broken down into different modules, with each module addressing different aspect of maintaining a healthy relationship. One subject for the married course is "Laughing into a Better Marriage," which focuses on using humor to understand differences and to keep a relationship active.
"I've seen results," Livingston said. "Before we started using
Strong Bonds, we would often see or hear about strained marriages while deployed. Since we've adopted it, though, there seems to be fewer divorces and breakups."

For more information about Strong Bonds and other relationship building programs, contact your unit chaplain's office.

The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade will host a Strong Bonds retreat this weekend in Lake Placid for its married Soldiers. For more information, contact Staff Sgt. Eric Livingston at eric.livingston@conus.army.mil, or call his office at 774-1073 during regular business hours.

Page last updated Thu May 20th, 2010 at 17:11