Strong Bonds is a chaplain-based military program designed to assist commanders in supporting unit-led retreats for service members, their spouses and their families. At a Strong Bonds event Soldiers and their loved ones will benefit from relationship education and skills training in a setting that inspires hope, fosters fellowship, and rekindles intimacy.
“Having the opportunity to invest and improve our relationship is priceless,” said Maj. Charles Rowell, commander of the 24th Financial Management Support Unit, Division Sustainment Troops Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade.
Strong Bonds was created in 1997 as a way to enhance family support programs. About 90 couples participated during the program's premier year. Interest and program success ballooned those numbers to hundreds of thousands of servicemembers and their families participating annually across all services.
“I definitely see a change in people as they come through strong bonds and they comment on how it changed their marriage,” said Capt. John Silvey, the chaplain for 14th Field Hospital, 3rd DSB. “It built their family, it helped them have better communication and it just gives them tools to be able to relate to each other.”
Silvey originally commissioned into the National Guard in 2010 and transitioned to active duty in 2014. Throughout his military career he has hosted numerous Strong Bond events.
“I've taught a number of different things to help Soldiers and families over the last 13 years,” Silvey said. “I think it's so important to have events like this that we can just pour into couples and support them and their families so that they have the tools to be able to work together to be stronger.”
Military families can struggle to communicate as well as have a lack of understanding of each other's perspectives. Strong Bonds events help aid Soldiers and their families spiritually, emotionally and mentally. These events are often centered around parenting and relationship building.
“I think it’s very important to take a moment together and work with each other to better the marriage,” said Angie Castro, spouse to 3rd DSB Soldier, Sgt. Emmanuel Diaz. ''When we are able to take the time to understand each other, it helps avoid conflicts later on.”
In addition to helping Soldiers and their spouses better their relationship with each other, Strong Bonds also gives them advice on how to understand and support each other throughout their careers.
“This program is here if couples want to improve their marriage,” said Sgt. Hilaria Lymas, a Soldier assigned to 3rd DSB. “It is on you to put in the effort and time into your relationship. This is just an opportunity to do so.”
To learn more about Strong Bonds, contact your unit chaplain.