News: Currahees laugh their way to stronger bonds
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Menzies
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Soldiers and their families from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division attend Strong Bonds Retreat, Sept. 21 to Sept. 23, 2012 as part of the brigade’s Family resiliency program at Nashville, Tenn.
With the U.S. Army concentrating on suicide prevention during the month of September, leaders recognize the impact of family resiliency on the emotional strength within the unit’s ranks of soldiers.
“We understand that our relationships, both at work and at home, affects the resiliency of all Soldiers,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Mark Morgan, the brigade chaplain with 4th Bde., 101st Abn. Div. “If we can offer Soldiers an opportunity to obtain the skills to build stronger bonds at home, we are also taking a small step to eliminate stressors that might effect a soldier’s manifestation of suicidal tendencies.”
During the weekend event, couples watch four videos from the Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage seminar by Mark Gungor.
A pastor from Wisconsin, Mark Gungor’s candid and comedic approach uses unforgettable illustrations and the power of laughter to teach proven principles that are guaranteed to strengthen any marriage, says laughyourway.com.
“When I registered to go on the retreat, I had no real knowledge of the seminar,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Johnson, the schools noncommissioned officer in charge with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Bde., 101st Abn. Div., who attended the seminar with his wife of nearly three years, Cassie. “I honestly thought it was going to be dull and boring.”
“I automatically thought of basic training and PowerPoint classes,” said Spc. Brittany P. Dyer, a human resource specialist from HHC, 4th Bde., 101st Abn. Div., who attended the seminar with her husband of nine months, Sgt. Matt Dyer. “I was afraid I was going to fall asleep. I didn’t have the most optimistic view.”
Many couples decided to attend the seminar regardless of their initial reservations and were very happy that they had attended.
“It was great,” shared Johnson. “It was able to keep my attention and the use of humor was a good way to get serious points across.”
“I would encourage other soldiers to attend,” said Dyer. “It will
definitely be better than you’re ever expecting.”
“Anyone can benefit from it, whether you are in good relationship or you need that little extra push in the right direction.”
With topics that touch on how to stay married without killing each other, the key to great sex and why spouses do the things they do, there is useful information for all attending.
“[Mark Gungor] broke down our differences more, explaining how and why we look at things differently,” said Johnson.
“He talked about how males versus females brains work and why it is important to understand this before communicating in the wrong way,” said Dyer.
The Strong Bonds retreat provided free lodging and childcare to attending parents and a paid for date night to allow couples time to reconnect.
“It is an amazing benefit,” said Johnson. “It would have been hard to find someone to keep the kids over the weekend for us. It was a definite factor when we were deciding to go. We wouldn’t have been able to work it out to go otherwise.”
“It was also pretty nice for me and my wife to spend that time together, without having to worry about trying to get somewhere and back.”
With the ever present concerns over budget cut backs and changes within the Army, attendees reiterate the importance of keeping these types of programs going strong.
“I think it would be a big mistake to let this program go,” said Johnson. “It is an opportunity to help a lot of people in different ways within their marriages but many people just don’t have their own funds to go.”
“It would be taking away an incredible opportunity from people who may really need it.”
“This program shows that the Army does care about families and making bonds stronger,” said Dyer. “I think it would be really unfortunate to lose this program because you can’t put a price on a marriage.”