Soldiers, Families take time for the game of life

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Cpt. Tyler Weightman, future operations officer, HHC, 194th CSSB and his wife Katherine try to complete a puzzle without talking during the Strong Bonds marriage retreat March 1 – March 3 at the Dragon Hill Lodge. The exercise helped Soldiers and their family member to communicate effectively with or without words. (photo by Sgt. Danielle Ferrer)
Cpt. Tyler Weightman, future operations officer, HHC, 194th CSSB and his wife Katherine try to complete a puzzle without talking during the Strong Bonds marriage retreat March 1 – March 3 at the Dragon Hill Lodge. The exercise helped Soldiers and their family member to communicate effectively with or without words. (photo by Sgt. Danielle Ferrer)

Soldiers, Families take time for the game of life

by: Sgt. Danielle Ferrer, 501st SBDE Public Affairs Office | .
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published: March 23, 2013

DAEGU GARRISON — The strength of our nation is our Army; the strength of our Army is our Soldiers; the strength of our Soldiers is our Families. Soldiers and Family members of the 194th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 501st Sustainment Brigade, were treated to a weekend of relaxation and learning at the famed Dragon Hill Lodge, Yongsan, the first weekend in March. The goal: To build stronger bonds within the family unit.

The Strong Bonds program is unitbased and organized through the unit chaplain. The Strong Bonds program aim is to increase not only individual Soldier readiness, but also that of the Army family as well. The program provides the tools through classroom education, but also affords the Soldier and their family the opportunity to have personal time to reflect and implement everything they have learned throughout the three day course.

Since the program first debuted in 1997, the number of participants has continued to grow. As the program becomes increasingly successful, it has now expanded Army-wide leading to better funding and a more diverse range of training material.

Many Soldiers have become very familiar with the four part series Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, by Mark Gungor. This comical take on marital issues has garnered much popularity in the Strong Bonds program. For the Soldiers of the 194th CSSB, Chaplain (Capt.) Jeffory Hill, 194th CSSB Chaplain, opted for a more hands-on approach.

“For this marriage retreat I used ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families for Army Families’ material,” said Hill. “I used it because I feel it is very practical and has a lot of interaction between the facilitator and participants, and a lot of interaction for the participants.”

Participants were provided with a 50 page workbook, which they were able to keep for future use. For Capt. Tyler Weightman, future operations officer, HHC, 194th CSSB, the material was helpful. Apart from being given the opportunity to spend time off with his family, Weightman, who attended the event with his wife and son, found much of the material to be highly informative.

“The lesson on emotional deposits and withdrawals was helpful in making me more conscious of how I treat my family,” Weightman said.

After six years of marriage, Weightman feels that programs like Strong Bonds are especially helpful to Soldiers who PCS to Korea.

“These retreats are designed to teach families how to resolve issues and reduce stress,” Weightman said. “Done correctly, Strong Bonds retreats offer time together, apart from normal duty, which can be filled with instruction and implementation. Instruction is important, but without a period of implementation (or rehearsal), the instruction will be quickly forgotten.”

Following each lesson, the Soldiers and their Family members were given ample opportunity to relax and enjoy the serene grounds of the Dragon Hill Lodge, or spend time venturing out into the city of Seoul. Weightman has been to numerous Strong Bonds retreats, and is definitely something he would gladly do again.

“This was a good opportunity to get away from work and spend some quality time with my wife and son,” Said Weightman.

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