Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers wait in line before boarding the ski lift Feb. 8, 2019, at Vivaldi Park, Gangwon-Do, Republic of Korea. Strong Bonds allowed Soldiers to build new relationships through education and skills training. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Edwin Petzke, 20th Public Affairs Detachment)
Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers wait in line before boarding the ski lift Feb. 8, 2019, at Vivaldi Park, Gangwon-Do, Republic of Korea. Strong Bonds allowed Soldiers to build new relationships through education and skills training. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Edwin Petzke, 20th Public Affairs Detachment)

Strong Bonds event held at Vivaldi Park

by Pfc. Edwin Petzke
20th Public Affairs Detachment

Gangwon-Do, Republic of Korea -- “There would be less divorces if only…” was the opening question asked by U.S. Army Cpt. Steven Love, Chaplain, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, at the beginning of the HHBN Strong Bonds event Feb. 7-9. 

Strong Bonds is a unit-based event that focuses on building individual resiliency by strengthening the Army family. The mission for Strong Bonds is to increase individual Soldier and Family member readiness through relationship education and skills training

Love used his personal life lessons to reach and interact with each and every one of the Soldiers in attendance, whether it was stories from his football career, life with his wife or his military career. Some of the things Love discussed caught some people by surprise.

“When we first signed up for the event, we knew it was about marriage. However, we never thought it would be more than we expected,” said Pfc. Kelsey Merritt, Nodal Network Systems Operator-Maintainer, Signal Intelligence and Sustainment Company, 2nd Infantry Division. “Coming here and learning more about each other and how to improve our relationship has been the greatest thing to ever happen to us.”

Love referred to the book “The 5 Love Languages” throughout the course of the event. The book consists of lessons such as words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts and physical touch. 

“I found out that one of my wife's love language is quality time,” said Spc. Cody Collins, Multichannel Transmission Systems Operator Maintainer, HHBN, 2ID. “One of my languages is physical touch, but this course has allowed me to focus more on my partner and that's what love needs.”

When the Soldiers were out of classes, many of them spent time skiing and snowboarding at Vivaldi Park. This gave them the opportunity to exercise the languages they learned and apply them.

“My wife and I have never skied before,” said Merritt. “Words of affirmation and quality time really helped the both of us learn to ski and enjoy our time together.”

This event equipped Soldiers with tools needed to become better leaders when they get back to their respective units.

“Leadership has a lot to do with relationship abilities,” said Love. “It helps all the Soldiers here become better communicators, and if they take it to heart, they will become better leaders which creates a stronger culture and a positive environment.”

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