HILTON HEAD, S.C. - The Army Strong Bonds retreat is a no brainer. Soldiers are being paid to attend, they are staying at a beautiful resort, and receiving world class instruction on communication, intimacy, and conflict management skills, said Chaplain Col. Steven Dyess of the 81st Regional Support Command Chaplain.
More than 70 married couples and approximately 30 single Soldiers took part in a Strong Bonds retreat for Army Reservists at a hotel resort in Hilton Head, S.C., hosted by the 81st RSC, Feb. 19 to 21. Strong Bonds is a chaplain led program designed to help Soldiers improve their relationships and, in the end, increase the Army’s overall readiness rate.
Capt. Jared Corsi; a civil engineer with the 926th Engineer Brigade; and his wife, Katherine participated in the retreat.
"It has been very surprising so far, I honestly did not think the Army would send us to a place like this,” said, Corsi. “This is one of those places you want to be able to see at least once in your lifetime."
The Corsi’s reflected on their own marriage while interacting with other couples during the classroom portion of the retreat.
“It was nice to know that you are not the only couple going through different issues in your marriage,” said Katherine Corsi. “It is nice to see that they have had the same feelings or thoughts as you. It was helpful being seated next to other couples.”
The retreat allowed Corsi and his wife to focus on each other and forget about their everyday life challenges.
"I enjoyed the sessions; I never really get to sit down with my husband that long. We were holding hands and learning together. It was nice to see that we have a good marriage," said, Katherine.
The program also helps single Soldiers establish relationship goals and gain the skills needed to help make better choices when picking a partner.
"I think the Army has matured. I am very pleased where the senior Army leadership is at today in support of Army Family Programs,” said, Col. Marvin Benton, the 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade commander, a single Soldier taking part in the retreat. “Fifteen years ago we never had a program like this."
A booklet in the course literature titled “How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk or Jerkette” introduced single Soldiers to the Relationship Attachment Model. Conceptually; the model protects the individual from blinding love, and provides a map for pacing the relationship.
“I’ve been able to sit back and listen to other peoples experiences and their beliefs and their feelings on relationships and I’ve been able to share some of my own,” said Sgt. Autumn Hope; a single Soldier with the 314th Public Affairs Operation Center, Birmingham, Ala. “It is nice just to be in this environment where we’re all here kind of for the same reason and it is safe.”
Soldiers interested in attending a Strong Bonds retreat are encouraged to contact their unit chaplains. Information is available online at www.strongbonds.org.
“I am going to spread the word to the rest of the Soldiers of my personal experience here,” said Corsi. “We are very thankful and I think it is an effective program.”