About Me

Fort Bragg, NC, United States
I'm a stay at home dad raising four beautiful children. I am the proud spouse of an Army Lieutenant Colonel. I do my best to keep up with the kids and all of their activities. I enjoy playing the bass and the occasional bass guitar building project. You can follow me on twitter if you so desire...@ArmySpouse007.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What are you waiting for?

This past weekend, our family had the opportunity to attend an Army Strong Bonds retreat. This wasn't our first time going, but it was definitely our favorite of all of them. If you've never been to one, then please read on and let me tell you about them.

The Army Strong Bonds program is designed to help military families remain strong and resilient in the face of deployments and pressures that we have faced over the last decade. They are usually held at a resort type hotel. And while they are run by the Army's Chaplains Corps, it really doesn't have any kind of religious flavor to it. Families are encouraged to bring their children and child care is always offered. Typically, you arrive on a Friday evening for a 2 hour session with your spouse. For every retreat we've been on, the child care has a separate room with plenty of workers; you check your kids in and then go to your class. Depending on the size of the retreat, there can be anywhere from 20 to 40 families. Most of your meals for the weekend are covered. There is always free time and usually there is child care offered during part of that free time so that you can spend some time alone with your spouse.

For our trip this past weekend, we were at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, TX (adjacent to the Dallas/Fort Worth airport). To me, it is the perfect setting. I mean, who doesn't want to spend a weekend at a hotel with a giant indoor water park and have nearly all of your expenses covered??? We had plenty of time over the weekend to play in the park along with the sessions that we attended. The meals were great and we had absolutely no complaints.

Usually, the sessions that you attend are focused on ways to strengthen your family. And while there are several different curriculums that are taught, the one we had was called 7 Habits of Highly Effective Military Families. Activities throughout the session are designed to show you ways of dealing with the ups and downs of being a military family. Of all of the curriculums that we've used over the years, this was definitely the best. It was very practical and extremely useful.

Here's the thing: there are tons of stressors on our military families these days. We're being told that deployments are going to slow down, but with our changing world, there's no real guarantee that will happen. Add to that the long hours that our soldiers work and the stress that they are under each day, and you can imagine the strain that our families can come under.

The Army finally began to realize what was happening to our families 7 or 8 years ago. It began to realize that in order to have an effective, stable fighting force it needed to have strong, stable families behind those soldiers. Soldiers don't reenlist and stay in if their families aren't happy. Strong Bonds is part of that effort. There have been some tough times during the deployments we've faced over the last 4-5 years. But I've never felt like the Army didn't care about us during those times. Sure, there was a time when the mentality of "the Army didn't issue you a wife and children" held sway. Those days, however, are gone. The truth is, our senior leadership actually does care about the overall health of our military families.

The Army isn't alone in this effort. The Navy and Marines have what's called CREDO, and the Air Force, while not having an over arching service wide program, provides services and retreats put on by individual bases that are very similar in nature to Strong Bonds. With all of these resources being offered to our military families, there's no reason why any military family shouldn't take advantage of one of these retreats. So here's the question: what are you waiting for?



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You can follow me on Twitter if you so choose... @Armyspouse007

4 comments:

  1. I once worked on the contract supporting Strong Bonds and was always so impressed with their dedication to the healthy growth of Army Families. I highly recommend attending if you possibly can ... and if you haven't heard of one being offered, talk to your Army unit chaplain!!

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  2. Hi Tim!

    I had a question for you about possibly collaborating on something (with Army Dad) and was hoping you could email me back to discuss? Thanks so much!

    - Emma

    emmabanks9 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  3. Hello Tim, I am a fellow musician and few years ago I wrote a song dedicated to the stay at home dad while his wife served in the military. I would like to send it to you for your opinion. My email is ChaplainMD@gmail.com

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  4. It's so sad that because of the financial issues the retreats have been cancelled until further notice!!! I LOVE going to them!

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