Strong Bonds Program

Tuesday January 8, 2008

What is it? Strong Bonds is a unit-based, chaplain-led program that helps Soldiers and their Families build strong relationships. The program's mission is to build Soldier readiness by providing skills the Soldier can use to strengthen his or her marriage and other relationships. It includes four sub-programs: a single Soldier programmed at helping warriors choose wisely and build life-long relationships; a couple program; a Family program which trains couples with children to stay close and parent well; and a program specifically for couples preparing for or returning from deployment. In order to maximize training effect, this relationship training is done in a retreat format, where Soldiers and Family members can "get away" in order to focus on their important relationships.

What has the Army done? Provided training to over 60,000 active, Guard, and Reserve Soldiers to help build strong relationships among single Soldiers, couples, and Family members.

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? Continue to refine the training tools and make available to more Soldiers and Family members. In 2008, this will include fielding a complete program to enabling Families of deployed Soldiers to thrive through the stresses of deployment, including training for children of all ages, and for spouses. This program will nest with the complete Strong Bonds-Deployment program to create a complete package that provides relationship-sustainment training prior to, during, and after return from combat deployments.

Why is this important to the Army? Healthy marriages contribute to the maintenance of a healthy Army and secures the future force. With increasing demands placed on Army Families and Soldiers, including frequent deployments and relocations, intimate relationships are tested and many marriages end in divorce. Research shows that training in communication, intimacy and conflict management increases marriage satisfaction and reduces rates of Family violence. In addition, about 30 percent of first-term Soldiers drop out of the Army. Data suggest that this drop out rate is significantly reduced when the Soldier had strong support from his or her Family and loved ones. Strong Bonds helps build Family support for Soldiers.


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