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NEWS | Nov. 1, 2022

Strong bonds build resilient families

By Chaplain (Capt.) Katie Declet

The U.S. Army’s most valuable resource has always been its people – the men and women who raise their right hand to selflessly serve our nation. But such a high calling comes with great sacrifice not only for the service member, but for their loved ones as well.

In order to build and strengthen families, the Army developed the Strong Bonds program. These training events provide a safe and secure environment for Soldiers and their families to address the impact of deployments, military-life stressors, and common relationship challenges. As service members and their families increase resilience in personal relationships, service in the National Guard is supported by a firm foundation—the family.

We, the chaplain team of the Colorado Army National Guard, host several evening and weekend Strong Bonds events throughout the fiscal year.

“For more than 25 years, the Strong Bonds program has been working to build strong and ready families,” Senior Army Chaplain, Chaplain U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dave Nagel said. “The leadership of the COARNG believes strongly in putting our people first, and the chaplain team is honored to continue the tradition of providing resiliency-based training. There is no greater joy than to see individual Soldiers, married couples, and families grow stronger. Their growth makes the COARNG a better organization.”

The chaplain team hosted a weekend family event in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Aug. 19-21.   The COARNG Youth Program Director Lance Ellis and his team provided a fun and safe environment for children to learn their parents. At the end of the weekend, we all came together to put it all together.

During these events, we spend time diving into various curricula to help build strong and ready families. Families also have free time to create lifelong memories with one another.

At the conclusion of every event, participants conduct an anonymous evaluation survey. Following the most recent family event, 100 percent of families said they saw value in the curriculum and also recommended this training for other military families.

“In the military, time is valuable and being able to spend a weekend away with our families, with an abundance of kid activities is treasured,” a participant said in their survey, “Learning how to keep our family strong, and improving communication is an added benefit.”

Strong Bonds events focus on creating fun-lasting memories for their families while strengthening their bonds.

“This program was very useful in showing the kids that the military is not all about taking the parent away or occupying all the parents’ time,” another participant said, “It was very good to share a fun time and attribute it to the military.”

We firmly believe that a strong family system strengthens service members, resulting in a ready force. Having support from the family on the home front is pivotal to the service member’s success.

We look forward to continuing to provide this resource to our Soldiers and their families in the upcoming years. Trust is critical for our success, and it starts with our families. Our goal is for at least 12 percent of our end strength to participate in at least one event in Fiscal Year ‘23.

Go to the Strong Bonds website to learn about upcoming events in Colorado: www.strongbonds.army.mil.

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