Army Reserve Sustainment Command hosts first virtual Strong Bonds event amidst COVID-19 restrictions

By Maj. Michael Nastari | Army Reserve Sustainment Command | July 6, 2020

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —

Soldiers are readjusting and adapting to a new type of normal. Multiple travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders are still in effect several months after the arrival of COVID-19 to our country. The coronavirus is changing how we conduct our daily lives and how the Army Reserve conducts their marriage and relationship training.

The Army Reserve Sustainment Command Chaplain Section is ensuring Soldiers’ spiritual and relationship needs are met amidst social distancing, face masks and travel restrictions.

The ARSC recently held its first virtual Strong Bonds couples event, which concluded on June. 27, 2020. This virtual version of the long-standing Army family retreat-style program was composed of time for the Soldiers and spouses to review their material, weekly virtual meetings and a summary session. Soldiers with their spouses signed up for the free event and were given access to the Army Strong Bonds PREP materials online. Participants then had a month to review the materials while having weekly virtual meetings to discuss information in the resources with other couples.

ARSC Chaplains Lt. Col. Diane Ricci and Maj. John Richards hosted the event. Richards handled the registration and administrative functions, and also participated in the program with his wife. Ricci facilitated the summary meeting and provided free counseling for participants if they so choose.

“The Strong Bonds materials focus on family but can be used in any circle you are in: military service, friends, and co-workers are just a few,” said Ricci.

As Ricci covered some of the highlights during the summary session, participants we able to explain what they got out of the various sections. Listening techniques, commitment and communication skills were a few of the favorite topics covered.

“I absolutely loved the commitment section,” a participant said.

This section compared buying two different types of cars to a marriage. If you are looking for another car the entire time, you end up neglecting the car you own. Over time, that car would break down with multiple problems. The same is true in a relationship where people always look for what they could have, not what they actually got. This analogy spoke of how important commitment is in any relationship.

“If you treated your car like your relationship, what would your car look like?” asked another.

The ARSC Chaplain Section is planning for additional virtual Strong Bonds events. With command approval, these events can be attended in place of attending a virtual or traditional Battle Assembly. All materials are free and Soldiers can be paid for their time with prior approval.

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