Fort Barfoot, Va. –
The Virginia Army National Guard Chaplain Corps conducted its first Building Strong and Ready Teams training Jan. 18, 2024, at Fort Barfoot, Virginia. This event was conducted for members of the Virginia Beach- based Headquarters Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, which is scheduled to deploy to Poland later this month.
More than 65 Soldiers, including the 529th command team, attended the event, which was strategically incorporated into the 529th’s pre-mobilization training.
BSRT is a command-directed, chaplain-led, community-partnered effort that strengthens spiritual readiness for Soldiers of all ranks and their families.
In 2022 the Office of the Chief of Chaplains reformed the legacy Strong Bonds program, changing the name to Building Strong and Ready Teams. BSRT supports commanders in promoting spiritual readiness by broadening the program scope for holistic wellness, collaborating with community partners, increasing cost efficiency and training a greater percentage of end strength.
The Air National Guard continues to use Strong Bonds as the program name.
Col. Seung Lee, Virginia National Guard state chaplain, invited Capt. Johnny Cochran, the National Ground Intelligence Center’s brigade chaplain, to facilitate the event for the 529th.
Cochran is a subject matter expert in areas of family life counseling and suicide prevention. This made him uniquely qualified to facilitate this BSRT, which focused on dealing with life’s transitions and conflict management/resolutions.
Prior to the formal training event, Maj. Will Cochrane, the 329th RSG chaplain, and 1st Lt. Stanley Bouadi, 529th CSSB chaplain, hosted a dinner for those in attendance. According to unit leaders, Soldiers at the event unanimously agreed that this dinner was a welcome break after a long day of mobilization training.
“The lessons learned in tonight’s training will be a valuable asset when Soldiers face deployment hardships,” said Lt. Col. Carlos Maldonado, the 529th CSSB commander.
Command Sgt. Maj. David Elliott echoed those sentiments, and encouraged Soldiers “to continue to lean on each other’s strengths in times of need.”
Lee concluded the night’s training by presenting coins to several members who supported the BSRT event.
"It's great that the new Army BSRT program moves beyond traditional marriage retreats, and now focuses on chaplains facilitating holistic fitness in a variety of areas," Lee said.