By ANDREA WALES
U.S. Army Human Resources Command Public Affairs Office
Watching the city lights dance on the water with your spouse’s arm around you while the Spirit of Jefferson made its way up and down the Ohio River might just be a couple’s most romantic evening in years. The dinner cruise was an auspicious start to a getaway weekend for 30 Fort Knox couples Feb. 8 to 10.
As part of the Strong Bonds program, the Fort Knox Warrior Transition Battalion hosted a couples weekend at the historic Brown Hotel in Louisville, said Chaplain (Capt.) Michael McCawley of the Warrior Transition Unit on post. McCawley was the chief facilitator during the weekend. Many couples from the U.S. Army Human Resources Command also attended.
Like most getaway weekends, the time was designed to bring couples closer. Day care was provided so each of the couples could enjoy time for just the two of them as well as time as a Family.
“Strong Bonds is a Soldier resiliency-building program that focuses on areas of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness—physical, emotional, social, Family and spiritual,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Brian Seidel, the chaplain at HRC who also was a facilitator at the event. “The idea of resiliency is obvious: ‘Bend; don’t break,’ succinctly put. How well do Soldiers bounce back when they face trauma, struggles, difficulties?”
Strong Bonds is fully funded and chaplain-led with the support of the commanding officer. Soldiers and their Families attend with others in the unit who share the same deployment cycle. During the retreat, Soldiers and their Families participate in small-group activities that reveal common bonds and nurture friendships, McCawley said. This shores up spousal support at home, which can be vitally important while the Soldier is away. In addition, Soldiers and Families gain awareness of community resources that can assist with concerns about health and wellness, even crisis intervention.
“A support network is critical for building resiliency—for negotiating those stressors, those struggles that Soldiers have,” Seidel said. “The Family, the home relationships can be a great source of strength, but they can be a tremendous source of stress.”
The weekend focused on men’s and women’s communication skills, the ways in which to improve marriages, McCawley said. Some of the topics were Men’s and Women’s Brains, the No. 1 Key to Incredible Sex, and How to Stay Married and Not Kill Each Other.
“On a couples retreat, we present information from an expert and neutral source to help spouses understand each other better and develop skills that will help them solve problems, resolve conflicts and parent better,” said Seidel, referring to
the “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” video presentation by Marc Gungor that
was shown and discussed during the weekend.
Recognizing the importance of Family support, the Army introduced the program Building Strong and Ready Families in 1997, McCawley said. New programs now meet Soldiers at different phases of the relationship cycle. Specific training is offered for the single Soldier, couples, Families with children, and all Soldiers and Families facing deployment.
See your chaplain to find out about the next Strong Bonds weekend.