Strong Bonds “surge” designed to kick start relationships

Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Strong Bonds Family event 24-25 August 2012


The first Kentucky National Guard Strong Bonds family weekend was held at the Center for Courageous Kids at Scottsville, Ky. August 24-26, 2012. The 2013 goal is to get ten percent of the force to take part in the program. (Photo courtesy KYNG Strong Bonds)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Life got you down?  Is your marriage just “okay”?  Having trouble with personal relationships?  These are questions we all face at one time or another.  The answers often seem elusive, but thanks to a unique program offered by the Kentucky National Guard, help could be just a phone call — or email — away.

“The Strong Bonds program has recently gained attention as one of the leading programs that builds relationships and improves the resiliency of Soldiers, Airmen, and family members in the National Guard,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Jerry Shacklett, Strong Bonds program activity director for the Kentucky Guard.

“We’ve got a proven track record, having helped more than 400 couples over the past five years.”

What exactly is the Strong Bonds program?  Well, it’s a unit-based, chaplain-led program which assists commanders in building individual resiliency by strengthening the military family. The core mission of Strong Bonds is to increase individual service member and family readiness through
relationship education and skills training.

Click here to find out more about the Army’s Strong Bonds program.

“Strong Bonds events usually occur over a weekend and utilize relationship enhancement programs that are nationally renowned and approved by the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains,” said Shacklett. “Unit commanders have the option of allowing the Guard members to attend in lieu of drill or in a volunteer status.”

To make the offer even more attractive, Strong Bonds pays for two nights at the hotel, meals included, and recently added childcare to the mix.

“Childcare is an important element in this,” said Shacklett.  “We’re doing everything we can to encourage folks to attend.”

One of the myths about Strong Bonds is that it focuses on troubled marriages.

“We invite married couples, singles and even entire families,” said Shacklett.  “The program is set up to enhance healthy relationships across the board.  We think we have something for everyone.”

The coming year represents a reenergized approach to the program, too:  “the surge.”

“With the surge our goal in 2013 is to train ten percent of the force,” said Shacklett.  “That includes both Soldiers and Airmen as well as their families.  The command has pushed this as a high priority and we’re determined to get the word out far and wide on this.”

“This is a proven program that helps built resiliency, strengthens relationships and in turn reduces divorces and the number of suicides.”

The staff is particularly proud of the feedback they get from attendees.

“In our after action reviews we get a 99% approval rating with hardly any negative comments on our curriculum,” said Shacklett.  “That tells us we must be doing something right.”

Here’s the 2013 Kentucky National Guard Strong Bonds schedule:

January 11-13  Lexington (couples)
February 1-3    Bowling Green (couples)
March 1-3          Louisville (couples)
April 26-28       Cumberland Falls (couples)
July 19-20          Lexington (couples)
August 2-4         Lexington (singles)
August 23-25    Scottsville (families)

For more information contact Chaplain (Maj.) Jerry Shacklett at 502.607-1232 or the state chaplain office at 502-607-1729, or you can email him at jerry.shacklett@us.army.mil.

You can also contact us on Face Book for updates and information.

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