KUWAIT NAVAL BASE, Kuwait — Capt. Eberge Maximilien asks each of the Soldiers seated around the conference table before her to introduce themselves, and to share a personal strength and weakness with the group.
The introductions kicked off a Sept. 21 Strong Bonds workshop for Soldiers assigned to the 595th Transportation Brigade (SDDC), currently deployed to the Port of Shuaiba, Kuwait, for a yearlong mission managing vessel operations for the Army's Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
Strong Bonds is a unit-based, chaplain-led program designed to help commanders enhance individual Soldier and Family member resiliency through relationship education and skills training. The curriculum for the Strong Bonds program is based on the writings of The New York Times’ bestselling author Steven M. R. Covey.
Maximilien, the 595th's chaplain, said the event her unit ministry team facilitated was focused on improving teamwork through helping Soldiers to recognize and capitalize on opportunities for personal growth.
“As Covey expresses so well in his writing, in teamwork there is dependence, independence, and interdependence, and in order to be interdependent—which [is the highest] level of relationships—I have to be independent in my way of thinking and seeing things,” the chaplain said.
“The more independent I am, the more [accepting] I am of myself, the better my relationship with you will be because I carry my own water, I carry my own weight—you don’t have to carry it,” the Chico, California native continued. “When I perform well, my squad, my team—all of us—benefit from it. It’s a team effort, but everybody has to contribute something.”
Maximilien said the daylong session away from their normal deployment duties provided the Soldiers an opportunity to learn about themselves and their teammates.
“It’s just crazy that I’m in this class as this is the stage in my life that I’m at now,” said Antionette M. Scott, a unit supply specialist assigned to the Concord, California, based 1397th Deployment and Distribution Support Battalion.
“I’m maturing more, so everything [they’re] talking about I’m already doing: listening to people when they talk, learning how to take myself out of situations that are going to pull away from my energy, knowing who to give myself to—people who are going to reciprocate my energy—not wasting my time, [and] being a very welcoming and a good person to other people,” the Clinton, Louisiana native said. “Just to see other people who aren’t there or maybe have been there … it’s like watching literally all of the stages in one room.”
Staff Sgt. Sean M. Holton, a human resources specialist assigned to the 595th, said the training embodied putting people first.
“Being part of your team, you have to know each other … so that you can better serve each other and with each other for the mission,” the Tampa, Florida native said. “You understand that you can’t leave anyone behind, that everyone’s mission is the same but not everyone will get to that end at the same time as you—so you have to wait with them, you have to understand with them.
“If you can’t do that, you’ll be finishing first and leaving people behind,” Holton continued. “It’s good that we just take a pause when we have time to take a pause and focus on people, because at the end of the day, you take all of the people out of the Army and you don’t have an Army.”
Maximilien said she was overwhelmed by the responses she received from Soldiers during the training.
“It’s like they’re taking off, it’s almost like this is something that was needed,” she said. “My hope is that they all—myself included—can figure out one thing, like we asked from the get-go, one thing that we can consider as a point that we can improve, and take it from there based on those lessons.”