Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Military Chaplains Say To Have A Strong Army We Need Strong Families

CHRISTIAN POST---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.
The Chaplains Religious Enrichment Development Operation (CREDO) is a program that began 41 years ago as a way to help Vietnam War veterans deal with substance abuse issues. Today the program has evolved to include a wide variety of services, including marriage enrichment, family, personal growth and pre- and post-deployment programs.

Lt. Earl Wilson III, a CREDO chaplain at the Marine Corp's Camp Pendleton in California, told The Christian Post on Friday that it is important for soldiers to make their marriages a priority, especially if they were deployed shortly after they were married. He pointed to a verse in the Book of Deuteronomy which says a man should not be deployed during the first year of his marriage, so that he can enjoy time with his wife.
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