Couples bond at 9th MSC’s Married Skills Workshop retreat

| September 7, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photo by
Christina Douglas
9th Mission Support Command Public Affairs

Albert and Susan Puletasi (left) work with Eleanor and Colbert Low (right) to complete their couples’ bingo cards. Bingo was one of the many activities the couples participated in during the Married Skills Workshop, Aug. 27-29. Albert Puletasi is a noncommissioned officer in the 548th Transportation Battalion, and Colbert Low is the commander of the 4960th Multi-Functional Training Brigade, both part of the 9th MSC.KAPOLEI – Fifty couples attended the U.S. Army Reserve 9th Mission Support Command’s Married Skills Workshop, here, Aug. 27-29, making it the command’s largest couples-event held in Hawaii to date. 

Diverse couples ranging from newlyweds to those with 35-plus years of marriage gathered at the J.W. Marriott Resort with one common objective for the weekend retreat: to strengthen their marriages. 

The workshop is part of Strong Bonds for Couples, which is a unit-based, chaplain-led program designed to strengthen the marital bond by giving couples the tools and information they need for better communication and relationship building. 

During the event, Soldiers and their spouses participated in activities such as team-building exercises and group discussions. They also had the opportunity to renew their vows. 

The command’s couples retreats have usually boasted anywhere from 15 to 33 couples, but this event significantly surpassed previous attendance numbers. 

Former 9th MSC command chaplain Mark Larson, who is now retired, was thrilled to see how much the program has grown since its inception. Larson, who has been married for 41 years, facilitated the program at the 9th MSC in 2004 and continues to provide support today. 

“I think, initially, there was some skepticism as to what (the program) was all about, but as couples experienced it and found out it was just to help them grow together … the program has grown exponentially over the years,” Larson said.

Chaplain (Capt.) Roland Geyrozaga, 9th MSC Strong Bonds program coordinator, said that “word of mouth” has served as a powerful tool in fueling the program’s popularity. 

“Couples are experiencing the program and seeing its effects,” said Geyrozaga. “Maintaining a healthy marriage is important because the greatest asset the Army has is its people, and if they aren’t healthy in their relationship … it’s going to affect their ability to accomplish their mission.”

Among this weekend’s attendees were Brig. Gen. Michele Compton, commanding general, 9th MSC, and her husband, Col. Mike Compton, Hawaii Air National Guard. 

“This was a fabulous opportunity,” said Compton, who recently returned from a deployment in Iraq. “My husband and I had a wonderful weekend, and we were able to focus on our marriage.” 

Compton, who has been married for 25 years, said she appreciates the resources the senior Army leaders are dedicating to the program. 

“I saw firsthand the value of this program in strengthening marital relationships of my Soldiers,” she said. “It provided them with a wealth of information, along with effective communication tools. My thanks to the skilled team of chaplains who made it such a successful weekend.”

Strong Bonds is a commander’s program aimed at contributing to operational readiness by increasing a Soldier’s resiliency to the stresses of military service, which is especially important for Soldiers who deploy. Many of the couples at this weekend’s workshop have recently returned from Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. 

The 9th MSC’s chaplains host Strong Bonds programs throughout the Pacific, including in the Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, Alaska, Saipan and Guam. Programs include Strong Bonds for singles and couples; before, during and after deployment. 

Next year, 9th MSC chaplains are planning to initiate a Strong Bonds Family program in which children 8 years of age and older can participate in a family getaway. 


To learn about the next Strong Bonds program scheduled near you, see your unit chaplain or visit


Category: News, Single Soldiers

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