News: Duke soldiers enjoy weekend getaway, build strong bonds
Story by Sgt. Thomas Duval
FORT KNOX, Ky — Every day, soldiers, train to strengthen and improve their unit cohesion and proficiency in order to be successful on the battlefield. After months of training in the field for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division have shifted their focus to strengthen another important factor in mission success; family readiness.
The 3rd IBCT command team and their soldiers have started to focus on strengthening their individual resiliency by reaching out to the Army’s extended family, through a unit-based, chaplain-led program commonly known as ‘Strong Bonds’, May 10-12 at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio.
“Military life comes with a unique set of challenges for military families, but this does not mean that Soldiers will automatically have problems at home … any soldier can be successful both in their home and in their career,” said Capt. Benjamin Reed, chaplain 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment. “These events are the closest thing we have to training soldier on how to have a strong, resilient military family.”
During the weekend getaway, soldiers and their spouses learned steps to improving their relationships through the ‘Active Military Life and Resiliency Skills’ (AMLRS) program.
The AMLRS, provided couples with the tools to strengthen the bond between husband and wife regardless of where they were at in their relationship.
“Every relationship is at a different point along the 'successful' spectrum, but no matter where yours happens to be, you can learn and apply relationship skills that will make it better if not great,” said Reed.
“My wife and I have an outstanding relationship but there were tools during the program that made our relationship more fulfilling,” Pfc. Keith Watson, soldier with 201st Brigade Support Battalion, said.
To ensure each soldier walked away fully understanding how to implement the lessons learned, families were given both a PowerPoint presentation as well as hands on exercises which included family dinners, date nights and free time to spend at the indoor water park.
“I have been trying to spend time with my family every weekend leading up to deployment so this was a great opportunity to be together ... It was kind of like going Disney World,” Watson laughed.
With the ‘Duke’ brigade entering the final stages before deploying, later this month; maximizing family time is something both Watson and Reed agreed was important to mission success whether at home or deployed.
“All commanders benefit from family-strengthening training because strong family support increases our combat readiness,” said Reed.
Col. Bill Ostlund, commander 3rd IBCT, agrees.
“Our soldiers in today’s Army, with continuous deployments and evolving mission requirements, could not do what is required without the love and ceaseless support of family members- spouses and children,” said Ostlund while addressing family members at a deployment ceremony May 14.
Although this is the last Strong Bonds retreat the 3rd IBCT will have before deploying it will not be the last opportunity for soldiers to enjoy time with their families.
In the weeks leading up to their deployment, the ‘Duke’ soldiers will be rewarded with authorized leave, multiple family orientations and family organizational days.
Also, as the soldiers begin deploying they will be able to communicate to their families thanks to support from a variety of morale, welfare and recreation programs.
For more information about Strong Bonds Retreats or MWR programs contact your unit Chaplain or visit www.strongbonds.org or www.armymwr.com.