Army Strong Bonds
Kansas City, Kan.— Soldiers and families of 1-7 FA participate in Army Strong Bonds retreat at Great Wolf Lodge on 17-19 Aug. The purpose of Strong Bonds is to increase Soldier and Family readiness through relationship education and skills training. The retreat was led by CH (CPT) Fry. (photo by Mrs. Kristin Smith)
Story by: Jude Cooke
Army Strong Bonds
Strong Bonds is a chaplain-led program which helps build Comprehensive Soldier Fitness and resiliency in Single and Married Soldiers and their Families. 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 retreat designed to maximize spiritual, emotional, social and family relationships. These excursions provide an emotionally safe and secure training environment in which to address the effect of military lifestyle stressors on the individual Soldier or Family. 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 FY 2010, the Army completed the third year of a five-year longitudinal study evaluating the outcomes of the Strong Bonds training program. Preliminary outcomes show a fifty percent lower rate in divorce with an increase in marital satisfaction for participants. Healthy relationships and strong spiritual and emotional fitness for the single Soldier 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, families can be stressed to the breaking point.
The 1-7 Field Artillery conducted its own Strong Bonds retreat at the Great Wolf Lodge, in Kansas City, Kansas this last past weekend (August 17 – 19). It consisted of a series of seminars by Dr. Mark Gungor, well-known marriage counselor, pastor and speaker. In a very humorous manner, which is his trademark, he talked about the many issues facing married couples. He discussed in his seminars some of the most common marriage problems and ways to understand why married couples have this problem and how to go about resolving it in the future. He took the marriage problems out of the context of being an individual problem and showed how they are universal problems which occur as a result of human behavior. Many couple were able to relate to his scenarios and were put at-ease about sensitive subjects by the humor Gungor displayed. Every couple got something out of the retreat; they found answers to problems occurring in their marriage and also enjoyed staying in an upscale hotel that provided professional childcare to allow couples to experience some personal time. One soldier who went on the retreat, 2LT Kelley, benefited greatly from the experience. "My wife and kids had a great time. It was a great opportunity to focus on my family and spend quality time. We also learned some valuable lesson that my wife and me will use to strengthen our marriage." The best part about this experience is that it is free of charge. If you are interested in a couple's strong bonds retreat or the version of the retreat geared toward single Soldiers (which is designed to help them chose their life spouse), talk to our 1-7 FA Chaplain, CH Bill Fry. He can be contacted at 785-307-3935 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.