By By Sgt. Courtney Ann Selig, First Army Division East Public AffairsMarch 4, 2013
Fort Meade Md., -- "In any profession, if the individual doesn't take the initiative to create time and space for self-care, then that person eventually will crash or burn out in some way," said Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Harry Huey, the head chaplain at First Army Division East and Strong Bonds instructor.
Recently, members of the First Army Division East Chaplain's team held a Strong Bonds event focused on the 'Got Your Back' concept for single Soldiers, in Annapolis, M.D.
The Strong Bonds program, 'Got Your Back,' is geared toward assisting Soldiers in better understanding themselves and communication abilities with peers, boyfriends, girlfriends, family and friends.
"Even the most hard-driving people need down time for self-reflection. The mission of training our Reserve Component, while a privilege, can be very time and energy demanding. That kind of self-reflection, and the transformation that can come from it, will strengthen singles for the long haul. That inevitably benefits the mission and the Army," said Huey, a Hattiesburg, Miss., native.
Strong Bonds for single Soldiers offers a unique opportunity to get off the work treadmill and look within themselves and their relationships.
"You only get out of it the amount of effort you put in," said Sgt. 1st Class Fred Cohen, a First Army Division East chaplain assistant and Strong Bonds' trainer, regarding the class participation.
"The ultimate goal for each event is to improve the quality of life of each Soldier who attends. The Strong Bonds program has helped countless Soldiers by teaching them positive life and relationship skills," added the Brooklyn, N.Y. native.
In addition, Cohen said the relaxed environment allowed Soldiers the opportunity to feel comfortable and open with one-another. For this reason, the event was held away from the unit's headquarters.
"My favorite part about the Strong Bonds event was the ability to interact with peers in my age demographic," said Sgt. Larry Templeton, a Soldier in First Army Division East, and native to Altus, Okla. "They are all in similar places in relationship status and they understand and appreciate where I am coming from."
Templeton added the environment of learning was relaxed, respectful and on a first name basis, but with the understanding that they could converse with one another without fear of reproach.
Soldiers attended class Friday through Sunday. Trainers agreed that in their lives and day-to-day interactions they have seen success from personally implementing the program.
"I've noticed a marked improvement in my communicating skills," said Master Sgt. Michael Bair, a First Army Division East chaplain's assistant and Strong Bonds trainer. "I am also able to step back and evaluate why I am reacting in a particular way to a perceived problem. The concept of 'when reality is less than ones expectations you will find disappointment' has led me to really evaluate my own expectations about relationships."
Bair, a Fredericksburg, Va., native, added that his goal, as an instructor, is to provide training on developing strong life-long relationships.
Positive instructors and an open mind made the event a success, according to Templeton.
"The willingness to learn and participate is amazingly increased by the instructors enthusiasm and exciting personalities," said Templeton. "I would highly recommend this program to everyone -- single or married. It was a fantastic eye opener and would be a good educational experience for Soldiers, regardless of their situation."
First Army ensures mobilization training is relevant, realistic and reflects the most current conditions Soldiers will face in theater. First Army Division East directly supports the Chief of Staff of the Army's priority of providing trained, equipped and ready forces to win the current fight, while maintaining responsiveness for unforeseen contingencies.