FORT KNOX, Ky. - Members of Fort Knox's 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and 233rd Transportation Company attended a Strong Bonds retreat Nov. 6-8 at Louisville's Galt House Hotel & Suites.

The Strong Bonds retreat was organized and implemented by the 3d ESC chaplain's office and offered ways to increase individual Soldier and Family readiness and resiliency through relationship education and skills training. The retreats are planned quarterly and give single Soldiers and couples the opportunity to relax while receiving training.

"Overall, the Strong Bonds retreat went really well," said Master Sgt. Lerissa Wilson, the 3d ESC master chaplain's assistant and Lynchburg, Va., native. "It gave the Soldiers in our unit a chance to relax with their spouses while also giving our single Soldiers a chance to bond with one another."

Strong Bonds is a unit-based, chaplain-led program which assists commanders by strengthening the Army Family. The Army-wide program is designed to recognize and correct any issues before relationships are in crisis mode.

"The Strong Bonds program has many of the tools required to build resilient Families and Soldiers," said Wilson, who was also the instructor for the single Soldiers courses. "The curriculum gave the opportunity for those attending to look into their life-coping skills while strengthening bonds and communication."

During the retreat, single-Soldiers and couples were split into different groups for courses pertaining to their relationship status.

Single-Soldiers attending the retreat attended courses based on a curriculum of making sound relationship choices. With about 50 percent of the Army's Soldiers being single according to the Strong Bonds website, this coaching and counseling is a way to prevent Soldiers from making bad life decisions.

"I felt that the Strong Bonds retreat went well, especially for us since we just got back from a 15-month deployment," said Staff Sgt. Talyia Williams, the 3d ESC Class I noncommissioned officer in charge and Miami, Fla., native. "By having the opportunity to incorporate your spouse into the training was really beneficial."

For couples, the Strong Bonds retreat is designed to strengthen relationships, inspire hope and rekindle marriages. Couples attending the retreat were treated to classes dealing with stress, problem-solving, expectations and forgiveness.

These classes are especially useful to military Families because of the long separations, frequent relocations and stress of deployment.

"My wife and I really enjoyed our weekend at the Strong Bonds retreat," said Spc. Caleb Henderson, a 3d ESC information systems analyst and Okeechobee, Fla., native who attended the retreat with his wife Yoharis. "There were many tools that the instructor gave that will help our relationship immensely."

Henderson, who married his wife while on rest and recuperation leave from Iraq, said that he and his spouse plan to implement much of the information given during the retreat into their marriage. He mentioned that no matter where he may be stationed in the future, he plans on attending the Strong Bonds retreat again.

"This retreat was very helpful and I recommend it to anyone, single or married," said Henderson. "I will definitely attend Strong Bonds again."

The 3d ESC's next Strong Bonds retreat is scheduled for Valentine's Day weekend in February 2010. For more information on Strong Bonds visit

Photos and story by Spc. Michael Behlin, 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) public affairs.
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