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Minnesota National Guard
Single Soldier Strong Bonds is A-1

Minnesota National Guard The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the Mississippi was mellow Aug 15, as 30 single Soldiers of the 1/34th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division set out on a canoe trip to bond as buddies

A retreat often associated with couples, Strong Bonds broadened to include those who are not in relationships with a program called Strong Bonds Alpha The unit-based and chaplain-led program assists commanders in building individual resiliency, resulting in a stronger unit, and a stronger Army

To maximize the training effect of Strong Bonds, it is usually conducted on an off-site "getaway" This provides a fun, safe and secure environment in which participants can address the impact of military lifestyle stressors

For the single Soldiers of the 1/34th BSTB, their getaway consisted of a two-and-a-half hour canoe trip down the Mississippi inside the boundaries of Camp Ripley

"The whole canoe trip was well planned," said Spc Jeff Fleishman of Alpha Co, 1/34th BSTB "It was really fun"

Immediately following the canoe trip, the Soldiers were bused to Camp Ripley's Education Center for the classroom portion of the event While eating their prepackaged military meals, the group was introduced to the various components that would make up the instruction

Though the discussion included heavy topics such as warning signs of difficult partners, how a family background affects relationships, attitudes and actions of conscience, self-awareness, and interaction between trust and reliance "It wasn't dry It was funny when it needed to be," added Fleishman

"If I would have had this class [in the past], had the book, and had the tools I think it would have given me a different perspective," Spc Rachel Clark reflected, a Signal Support Systems Specialist from the 1st ABCT headquarters "I thought both events were great It kept my attention"

Though this Strong Bonds Alpha event could only reach 30 Soldiers, there will certainly be more events to serve single Soldiers in the future The Chaplain Corps runs the Strong Bonds program which is supported by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, an organization designed to help Service members and their families For information on how to participate in Strong Bonds events, see your unit chaplain or chaplain's assistant You can also learn more at wwwBeyondTheYellowRibbonorg/strong-bonds-marriage-retreats

15 Aug 2013
Spc Linsey Williams
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs



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