Chaplain builds Strong Bonds, dedicated Soldiers
January 4, 2012
ST. LOUIS -- Nearly 100 Soldiers and Family Members assigned to the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade on Fort Leonard Wood participated in the Army Strong Bonds program Dec. 28 - 30, 2011 at the Holiday Inn at Six Flags.
According to the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps, 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.
The Army Chief of Chaplains created the Strong Bonds program, which focuses on strengthening couples, marriages and families especially in times of conflict, said Maj. Christopher Edwards, 4th MEB chaplain.
"Before the Strong Bonds program was created, there were no funds dedicated for Army family enrichment," Edwards said. "Chaplains would request money from command funds, but in times of conflict that money is prioritized for bombs, bullets and beans."
The 4th MEB was granted $480,000 this fiscal year by the Office of the Chief of Chaplains to provide opportunities for Soldiers to improve and enhance their relationships.
The money is slated to fund a total of 36 family and single Soldier retreats.
"This is our second family retreat," said Spc. Rachel Byington, a military police Soldier assigned to the 13th Military Police Company. "My husband and I are both in the military and would not have taken the time to do this if it wasn't for the Army."
Byington and 26 other couples participated in a marriage enhancement workshop spanning eight hours during the three-day retreat.
"It was so refreshing to spend one-on-one time with my husband," said Bonnie Tucker, military wife of nearly 18 years and mother of two. "Retreats like these are such a great reminder of the things that we need to be doing as a couple to keep each other happy."
Edwards reminded the Soldiers that while dedication to military service is an important characteristic for service members to posses, building strong bonds between family members is also part of that dedication.
"Families are at the forefront of the Army's success at home and abroad," said Edwards.
"I know that, for me, my family is the main reason I am able to do what I do," he added.
The 4th MEB chaplain and his staff provide religious support to more than 2,000 service members and their families on post.
For more information about the Strong Bonds program, visit http://www.strongbonds.org.