Strong Bonds strengthens Soldiers, their families
November 1, 2012
A chaplain-led couples retreat is helping commanders build individual resiliency by strengthening the Army family.
Called Strong Bonds, its core mission is to increase individual Soldier and family member readiness through relationship education and skills training.
"The program's training materials provide the chaplain with tools designed to increase individual readiness," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jose G. Herrera, Expeditionary Contracting Command.
"By helping couples and families learn how to strengthen relationships by developing their relationship skills, the program contributes to comprehensive Soldier fitness."
The retreat was conducted offsite to minimize day-to-day distractions and to maximize the training effect, he said.
This retreat, a first for couples in the Army Contracting Command and ECC headquarters, was conducted in Nashville, Tenn.
Co-located at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., the ACC and the ECC chaplain sections have been collaborating to provide comprehensive spiritual fitness for all personnel on the campus through activities like weekly Bible studies and monthly prayer luncheons.
Limited to married Soldiers, the training equipped couples with the tools to work through ordinary and extraordinary conflicts that could end a marriage, said ACC Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Charles 'Chip' Fields.
"The itinerary is arranged in such a way as to balance time in training and time for couples to enjoy alone in order to practice the training," he said.
"The training includes role playing, instructional videos and learning in a group environment. Most of all, they get to enjoy time together and can take advantage of one-on-one time with the command chaplain."
Herrera said some mistake the retreat as a few days off.
"To those who think it is a minivacation, I would say come and try it. You will come away with a different perspective," he said.
"There are many testimonies of Soldiers regarding the impact that the Strong Bonds weekends have had on their personal lives and on their marital and familial relationships.