STAND TO!

Edition: Tue, December 30, 2008
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Army Strong Bonds Program

What is it?

Strong Bonds is a unit-based, chaplain-led program that helps Soldiers and families build and maintain strong relationships. The program's mission is to build Soldier readiness by providing skills the Soldier can use to strengthen his or her marriage or other relationships. It includes four subprograms: single-Soldier, couple, family and pre/post deployment. In order to maximize the training effect, this training is done in a retreat format; where Soldiers and family members can "get away" in order to focus on building important relationship skills.

What has the Army done?

Since its modest beginnings in 1999, starting with 4 events and 90 couples in Hawaii in the 25th Infantry Division, Strong Bonds has spread throughout the active and reserve components of the Army. In 2007, the U.S. code was amended to allow support for "chaplain-led programs to assist members of the armed forces ...in building and maintaining a strong family structure." Currently, over 100,000 Soldiers and family members have participated in over 2,500 Strong Bonds events.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

The Army will continue to provide training tools and make them available to more Soldiers and family members. 2009 will be year three of a five-year longitudinal study evaluating the effectiveness of the Strong Bonds program. Also in 2009, we anticipate that commanders from the active Army, the National Guard and the Army Reserve will sponsor over 3,000 Strong Bonds events, including those Soldiers geographically separated from military installations.

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 fully tested. Research shows that training in communication, intimacy and conflict management increases marital satisfaction and reduces rates of family violence. Building family resiliency is one way to cope with the high operational demand placed on Army Soldiers and families.

Resources:

Strong Bonds Web site

INFORMATION YOU CAN USE

- 2008 Strategic Communication Guide - Read the 2008 Army Strategic Communication Guide for key messages and updates

- Strategic Communication Coordination Group (SCCG) Workspace

- Army Public Affairs Portal

- Stories of Valor

- Speaker's Toolkit

- Information Papers with " 2008 Army Posture Statement"

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