Story & photo by Staff Sgt. Darrin McDufford, 88th
Regional Support Command Public Affairs Office
Relationships change and exist in a state of flux and
generally evolve over time. Some will transform invisibly and couples
won’t even notice the difference. When the couple, team or pair is
separated by time and distance, this strain of change is all more
A participant picks a ball during
a Strong Bonds Military Family Enrichment module. The ball would
give him the floor to speak his mind and tell his mother how he
feels about her as his mother during the event at Wisconsin
Dells in December.
About 13-years ago the Army began the Strong Bonds
program, designed to strengthen the bonds of Army Families to as tight
as that of Soldiers serving together. Since the program began, hundreds
of thousands of Soldiers and their Families have participated.
The 88th Regional Support Command (RSC) sponsored its first Strong Bonds
Military Family Enrichment event at Wisconsin Dells in December.
The three-day event was designed to help military Families interact with
each other through positive exercises, activities and teaching.
“The events require a year of scheduling to make them happen. We (the
88th RSC) are service oriented, and we knew we needed this event,” said
88th RSC Chaplain (Capt.) Robert Sunman. “The operational, functional
and training commands drive the needs for most retreats, and this fiscal
year there are 22 events.”
Strong Bonds Military Family Enrichment is the latest iteration in the
program to keep Families together, and this event had a representation
of Soldiers who were mobilized or deployed. Army Reserve Troop Program
Unit members also were included.
“The logistics and administration of these events requires hours of work
by Soldiers whose sole purpose is to help other Soldiers. The events are
ever-changing and fluid as the instructors consistently update their
modules depending upon societal changes, comments from event attendees
and to keep the content up-to-date,” Sunman stressed.
During the weekend, participants had time to focus on the Family
environment and could take time out of the daily grind for a little fun
Instructors held classes that focused on common Family dysfunctions.
Families worked on team projects and swapped children with other
Families to complete those projects as if it was a reality TV show.
Other classes separated the children from the parents so that they could
focus on each other as the nucleus of the Family, the strong bond that
builds ready Families.
Sgt. Terri Groves, staff administrative technician with the 415th Civil
Affairs Battalion in Kalamazoo, Mich., said her Family learned most from
the events requiring cooperation and communication.
“My son, Robert, said he liked the part that he got to tell (me) and
everyone what he most appreciated about me being his mother,” Groves
“My Family needed better ways to interact. We are a Family brought
together through marriage and sometimes the kids just squabble,” said
Staff Sgt. Marcus Marshall, 3rd Brigade, 75th Division located at Fort
Sheridan, Ill. “We learned different methods to getting along as a
Family, and we are practicing implementing them.”
The overall measure of success of this event and other Strong Bonds
events comes from surveys that attendees complete. The 88th RSC
consistently has scored an average of 4.64 points out of the possible 5
points, which is significantly above the Army Standard of 4 points.
Soldiers wishing to attend any of the Strong Bonds events should contact
their unit chaplain or go to
http://www.strongbonds.org for more information regarding dates and
locations of upcoming events.
In addition to the Military Family Enrichment other opportunities are
Marriage Enrichment and Single Life Enrichment.