From the US Army 2010 Posture Statement
Strong Bonds Program
What is it?
Strong Bonds is a unit-based, chaplain-led program which assists commanders in building individual resiliency by strengthening the Army Family.
The Strong Bonds mission is to increase individual Soldier and Family member readiness through relationship education and skills training.
We currently have four Strong Bonds programs:
- “Single-Soldiers” to help Warriors build resilient relationships and choose wisely
- “Couples” to strengthen the marital bond
- “Families” to train couples and singles with children to bond and parent well
- “Deployment” to ensure relationships thrive across long distances and during the turbulence before and after deployment
Strong Bonds is conducted in an offsite retreat format in order to maximize the benefits of the program. The retreat or “get away” provides a fun, safe, and secure environment in which to address the impact of relocations, deployments, and military lifestyle stressors.
What has the Army done?
Beginning in 1999, with 4 events and 90 couples in the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, Strong Bonds has spread throughout the active and reserve components of the Army. In 2004, the law was amended to allow command funding for “chaplain-led programs to assist members of the armed forces…in building and maintaining a strong family structure.” During Fiscal Year 2009 more than 160,000 Soldiers and Family members participated in over 2,600 Strong Bonds events.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army will continue to provide relationship training tools and make them available to more Soldiers and Family members. Fiscal Year 2010 is the third year of a five-year longitudinal study evaluating the effectiveness of the Strong Bonds training program. Initial results are showing a two thirds decrease in divorce and an increase in marital satisfaction.
Also, commanders from the Active Army, the National Guard and the Army Reserve plan more than 4,000 Strong Bonds events in 2010 to include Soldiers geographically dispersed from military installations. To accomplish this commanders across the Total Army have requested more than $100 Million this fiscal year in Strong Bonds programming.
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, couples, and Families, to include frequent deployments and duty relocations, intimate relationships are considerably stressed.
Research shows that training in communication skills, intimacy, and conflict management increases marital satisfaction and reduces rates of family violence. Strong Bonds helps build Family support for Soldiers. Building Army Family resiliency is part of a strategic approach to cope with the high operational demand placed on today’s Army.
Updated as of: 17 Feb 10
Office of the Chief of Chaplains