FORT CAMPBELL, KY (March 18, 2019) - On March 8 as part of the Strong Bonds single Soldiers program, Capt. Daniel Isfan, chaplain for Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and a group of 15 "Screaming Eagle" Soldiers took a trip to Topgolf Nashville for a day of fun, relaxation and resiliency.
The intent for this trip was to get Soldiers out of the office and into an environment where they could relax, let their guards down and learn how they can be more effective people, leaders, and Soldiers, Isfan said.
Strong Bonds is a chaplain-led program for commanders whose mission is to increase Soldier and family readiness through relationship education and skills training.
This is done in the form of retreats revolving around Soldiers getting out of the workplace and into a more casual setting to create a fun, safe, and secure environment to address the impact of relocations, deployments, and military lifestyle stressors.
"When you're in a place that's not 'army-ish' people tend to put their guard down, be more human, more open, and more transparent," Isfan said. "I think that's when you actually have a chance to speak into Soldiers' lives."
The breakout session for the day included a discussion on the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey.
Such habits include topics like 'being proactive,' 'beginning with the end in mind,' and 'seeking first to understand then to be understood,' to name a few. Isfan drove home the main points of this training and encouraged the Soldiers to participate in this group discussion to learn more about each other during their trip.
"90 percent of these people I'd never seen before today," said Spc. Darren Massey, a cable systems installer/maintainer for the Signal Intelligence Sustainment Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Having said that, I'm pretty sure next time we see each other around, we'll be able to have a little deeper conversation past the typical 'hello' and 'good mornings.'"
Getting the Soldiers in a place where they could relax was the key to success for this retreat.
"It kills a lot of the monotony of the work environment," said Spc. Charles Mickey, an information technology specialist with SIS Company. "It's good to get out once and a while from the office and just have fun with people."
When planning an event such as this, it is important to make sure the venue selected is attractive for Soldiers to buy in to coming and the curriculum will not only benefit their careers but also empower them for life.
"One of my favorite quotes was remember that you have two ears and one mouth and should listen twice as much as you speak," Massey said.
By focusing on the experience of being with other Soldiers and playing a sport together versus sitting in a conference room training all day, chaplain Isfan was able to add another dynamic to this particular retreat.
Communication and teamwork skills are vital for our leaders of the future, he said.
Another more subtle dynamic of the training was the single Soldiers witnessing firsthand how chaplain Isfan and his wife Diana interact.
"She increases my effectiveness exponentially," he said. "For me, I think my wife proves to a lot of people that what I preach, teach, and try to instruct others on I mean because they see me living it out with her."
Synergy - that's what the Soldiers saw between the chaplain and his wife, and that's what was created amongst this group of individuals turned friends.