Military chaplains: To have a strong army, we need strong families

A strong U.S. military depends on more than just high-tech equipment and highly trained soldiers; it also depends on soldiers having a stable marriage, according to military chaplains.

Strong Bonds is a program that began in Hawaii over a decade ago when a brigade chaplain and his commanders realized that soldiers needed a way to receive help with their marriages. Although it started at a grassroots level, Strong Bonds has helped over 160,000 soldiers and their family members through over 2,600 events last year.

“In order to have a strong army, we also need to have strong families,” Lt. Col. Carleton Birch, a Strong Bonds chaplain and spokesperson, told CP.

A report released jointly by the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of the Treasury in February says there are over 600,000 civilian spouses of active duty service members. These couples have been married, on average, for just under eight years, and 72 percent of them have children.

But statistics show they are struggling to sustain their marriages. In 2011 approximately 30,000 military couples divorced, bringing the divorce rate up to 3.9 percent and its highest mark since 1999, the Air Force Times reports.

In order to strengthen these marriages the branches of the military have developed a number of different programs, many of them in the form of weekend getaways where military couples can focus on their relationships and learn the skills that are needed to have a successful marriage. [More]


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