GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany –
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Soldiers and family members from the 7th Mission Support Command joined each other under sunny spring skies at the Armed Forces Recreation Center´s Edelweiss Lodge and Resort to develop their coping and spiritual skills during the Strong Bonds Event.
The event, from March 18-20, featured classes and seminars and stressed personal resiliency and emotional intelligence. It was hosted by the 7th MSC Command Chaplain´s Office.
“Strong Bonds is essentially a marriage enrichment program,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard M. Hernigle, a Chaplain Assistant with the 7th MSC and one of the event´s organizers.
But Hernigle, an Albany New York native now living in Espoo, Finland, said that single Soldier´s needs were also being attended to in separate seminars and classes at Edelweiss Lodge.
“For the singles (Soldiers) there´s a couple of different tracks,” said Hernigle. “It teaches them better ways to live,” he added.
For one Soldier´s family, attending the Strong Bond Event was a welcome break.
“It´s a great opportunity and we really appreciate it,” said Army Staff Sgt. Benedict J. Balagtas of the 7th MSC. The Pasadena, Calif. native brought his wife Niky and their two sons for the event.
Attending these events strengthens techniques to manage and negotiate even within a good marriage said Balagtas.
“It puts your family and your relationship with your spouse into perspective,” he said.
But for one of the younger Soldiers working full-time as a Chaplain Assistant in the Army, actually hosting and organizing a large event for families in a peaceful Alpine setting proved to be a new challenge.
“We didn´t learn to do this in Advanced Individual Training,” said Army Pvt. 2nd Class Whitni J. Copeland a native of Phenix City, Alabama and the Command Chaplain´s newest Soldier, referring to what she needed to learn to help organize the event.
Copeland said that most of her Army training as a Chaplain Assistant (Military Occupational Specialty 56 M) stressed the tactical aspects of protecting and facilitating the Chaplain´s mission in a combat environment.
“Basically, they taught us how to take care of the chaplain if you are out in the field,” said Copeland.
“It was a lot of infantry skills,” said Copeland looking out the window to the snow-capped Alps.