FAJARDO, Puerto Rico --
Being single does not mean you do not need communication skills to build better, or future, relationships. The 156th Chaplaincy hosted and taught a superhero themed “Got Your Back” Strong Bonds Seminar for more than 20 Airmen during a retreat Jul. 12-14 on the east side of the island.
“Got Your Back” is an interactive curriculum focused on helping individuals to improve understanding and decision-making in their relationships. The goals include helping individuals handle stress more effectively, limit destructive communication patterns, understand safe and unsafe relationship dynamics, and to be more intentional about expectations and actions in seeking successful relationships with others. The chaplaincy also included games and self-defense training as part of the experience.
“Our singles need just as much care and feeding as our couples and families,” said Chaplain David Sarmiento. Sarmiento, a Major, volunteering from Riverside, Calif., is the lead Chaplain from an Air National Guard Advise and Assist Team serving on a long-term assignment with the 156th. “This course provides these Airmen with tools to live a resilient life. It empowers them with courage to make positive change in any season of life.”
The training and Sarmiento’s leadership come at a critical time for the wing as they transition to a new mission set. “More than ever, the 156th Airmen need to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically fit to ensure mission success,” said Sarmiento.
“Communication is the most important tool,” said A1C Stephanie Santiago, 23, from the Logistics Readiness Squadron. “This seminar helped me with navigating my emotions so I can better interact with my family, coworkers and supervisors. I’m part of a team and understand how I can use forgiveness to not take things personal. I became my own superhero.”
In the Guard, it is important to remember that being single is not generationally specific.
“Everyone has the same feelings no matter your age,” said TSgt. Rosa Arce, 53, also from LRS. “We need emotional tools to better communicate and navigate life.”
“There are so many things we don’t take into consideration when we meet people and build relationships,” said AIC Andrea Rivera, 21, a public health technician from the Medical Group. “The military teaches us to be more resilient and flexible. No matter how much you plan, you can’t always be prepared. Strong Bonds helped me learn how to respond and focus on the aspect of teamwork and less on me as an individual. I am now more capable to embrace how people are different and can relate to them in a respectful manner.”
As a group, the Airmen said they learned to embrace their status, became their own superhero and now have additional tools that will help them in their future relationships.