By CH (LTC) Birch CarletonOctober 26, 2009
Strong Bonds Program
What is it'
Strong Bonds is a unit-based, chaplain-led program which assists commanders in building individual resiliency by strengthening the Army family. The core mission of the Strong Bonds program is to increase individual Soldier and family member readiness through relationship education and skills training. Strong Bonds includes four subprograms applied across the Army Force Generation model: single-Soldier, couple, family, and deployment. Strong Bonds is conducted in an offsite retreat format in order to maximize the training effect. The retreat or "get away" provides a fun, safe and secure environment in which to address the impact of relocations, deployments and military lifestyle stressors.
What has the Army done'
Since its modest beginnings in 1999, starting with four 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 2004, 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." During Fiscal Year 2009 more than 160,000 Soldiers and family members participated in over 2,600 Strong Bonds events.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future'
The Army will continue to provide relationship training tools and make them available to more Soldiers and family members. Fiscal Year 2010 is the third year of a five-year longitudinal study evaluating the effectiveness of the Strong Bonds program. Also, commanders from the Active Army, the National Guard and the Army Reserve plan more than 4,000 Strong Bonds events in 2010 to include Soldiers geographically dispersed from military installations. To accomplish this commanders across the total Army have requested more than $103 million in support of Strong Bonds.
Why is this important to the Army'
Healthy relationships contribute to the maintenance of a healthy Army and a secure future force. With increasing demands placed on Soldiers, couples and families, to include both frequent deployments and duty relocations, intimate relationships are fully tested. Research shows that training in communication skills, intimacy and conflict management increases marital satisfaction and reduces rates of family violence. Building Army family resiliency is part of a strategic approach to cope with the high operational demand placed on today's Army.
Strong Bonds Web site