FORT JACKSON, S.C. (May 25, 2018) - Over 150 U.S. Army Chaplains, Religious Affairs Specialists, Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), spouses, and more gathered at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina April 9-13, 2018, to attend a week-long training seminar for Strong Bonds instructors.
Strong Bonds is a Chaplain-led program for Commanders that builds relationship resiliency in Soldiers and Families by addressing the impact of relocations, deployments, and military lifestyle stressors in a safe and secure atmosphere.
"Strong Bonds is the Army Chief of Chaplain's premier resiliency and relationship building program for Soldiers and Army Families," says Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Paul Yoon, Officer in Charge, Strong Bonds Programs and Instructor Training. "Senior Army leadership is very supportive of the program, and it has been proven very effective for instructors and participants."
The Soldiers and spouses in attendance for the instructor course participated in classroom discussions, group assignments, and other activities to learn the tools needed to be successful Strong Bonds instructors.
While each classroom curriculum was different, each session provided attendees with useful lessons to help them in-and-outside of the classroom.
In one of the six classes, new and returning attendees grouped together to discuss traits and behaviors. Within one of these groups was Religious Affairs Specialist Ryan Rojas.
"It's an incredible learning experience. It's time outside of Soldiers' normal Area of Operations (AO), where they can engage with their instructor," said Rojas.
"It's a wonderful opportunity, where Soldiers can learn about each other, their peers and also how to get to know their Chaplain or Religious Affairs Specialist. They'll learn a lot."
Strong Bonds continues to bring aboard new members through its instructor training events. John Ray-Roberts, 1st Lieutenant Chaplain Candidate with the 11th/82nd Deployment Distribution and Sustainment Battalion in North Charleston, South Carolina, explained that while this was his first Strong Bonds instructor training event, it won't be his last.
"It's a phenomenal opportunity for me as a young Chaplain candidate in the Army Reserves to gain skills here with such excellent trainers and senior leadership," Roberts said enthusiastically. "Strong Bonds enriches Soldiers' relationships and personal lives in ways that'll strengthen the family unit, and build that resiliency for families as they go through the Army lifestyle."
This Instructor Training was also Chaplain (Capt.) Zuleika Carrion Caraballo's first. Chaplain Caraballo said that the tools provided at Strong Bonds trainings work effectively to improve moral environments for Soldiers within the battalion.
"Strong Bonds training provides the materials necessary for Soldiers in your unit. But it doesn't only have to be a Soldier; it can also be a spouse," explained Caraballo.
Chaplains who have instructed at Strong Bonds courses previously, explained that the lecture material used within the classroom is also extremely beneficial for Soldiers and families when it comes to conflict resolution.
U.S. Army Chaplain Shawn Terrell explained a few necessities when it comes to classroom material, starting with the importance of the "How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk" book, written by Dr. John Van Epp.
The book, which was introduced to Terrell while teaching a Strong Bonds course, helped him and his spouse improve communication and trust within their marriage. He touched on how the book also helped the two learn to resolve conflict effectively, by changing how they approached and managed their communication during a conflict.
"After reading the book, it made her want to back off, but it made me want to engage more," explained Terrell. "Strong Bonds helped me look into what I needed to do, to better care for my wife."
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About Strong Bonds:
Strong Bonds is a Chaplain-led program for Commanders that builds relationship resiliency. The Strong Bonds mission is to increase Soldier and Family readiness through relationship education and skills training.
Specific training is offered for Single Soldiers, Couples, Families with children, and all Soldiers and Families facing deployment. Soldiers and their Families attend with others in the unit who share the same deployment cycle. In addition, Soldiers and Families gain awareness of community resources that can assist with concerns about health and wellness, even crisis intervention.
Army Chaplains interested in attending a Strong Bonds instructor training course should contact Chaplain (LTC) Paul Yoon at firstname.lastname@example.org.