Chaplain Strong Bonds Program

Friday July 29, 2011

What is it?

Strong Bonds is a chaplain-led program for commanders which builds relationship resiliency. The Strong Bonds mission is to increase Soldier and family readiness through relationship education and skills training. Four Strong Bonds programs applied to the Army Force Generation cycle help single Soldiers, couples and families to thrive in the turbulence of the military environment. Attendees voluntarily participate in a Strong Bonds offsite training designed to maximize relationship training impact. The "get away" provides an emotionally safe and secure training environment in which to address the effect of military lifestyle on relationships.

What has the Army done?

Beginning in 1999, with four events and 90 couples in the 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii, Strong Bonds has spread throughout the active and reserve components of the Army. In 2004, the U.S. Code was amended to allow command funding for "chaplain-led programs to assist members of the armed forces building and maintaining a strong family structure," (Title 10, ~1789). The Army is in its fourth year of a five-year longitudinal study evaluating the outcomes of the Strong Bonds training program. Preliminary outcomes show a 50 percent lower rate in divorce with an increase in marital satisfaction for participants. During the 2011 HQDA Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) Conference the Army Strong Bonds Program was chosen as the number one Mobilization, Deployment and Family Readiness Strength initiative.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned?

The Army continues to provide relationship training tools and make them available to Soldiers and their families. For Fiscal Year 2011, commanders from the active Army, the National Guard and the Army Reserve planned more that 5,000 events for over 500,000 attendees, including units and Soldiers geographically dispersed from military installations.

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 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 family resiliency is part of a strategic approach to cope with the high operational demands placed on today's Army.


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Senior Leaders are Saying

"For 236 years, the Chaplain Corps has steadfastly supported Soldiers and families during peace and in war, answering a second call ... that of service to the nation. Through initiatives such as Strong Bonds, the Chaplain Corps has directly and positively impacted the resilience of our families. Throughout their history, chaplains have served alongside combat Soldiers, enduring hardships and bearing burdens, but remaining Army Strong for those they serve."

- Army Secretary John M. McHugh

Chaplain Corps turns 236 with new strength

What They're Saying

"I am deeply honored to pay tribute to six most outstanding American Soldiers from the United States Army and the Army National Guard who distinguished themselves while fighting the Taliban and Al Qaida elements in Afghanistan. "

- French Ambassador François Delattre, at a ceremony to present one active-duty and five National Guard Special Forces Soldiers a French award roughly equivalent to the Silver Star.

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